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21.10.2007 Editorial

Ban On District Lotto


We are not surprised that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has directed Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to terminate the licences of all private lotto operators in their areas of jurisdiction.

Private lotto operators were issued with licences in 1996 to perform specific duties including rendering social services such as providing educational and health facilities for their respective assemblies, but they failed to do so.

That apart, they were pirating the draws of the Department of National Lotteries (DNL) and for all the time that they were operating, none of them ever paid taxes to government.

All that they did was to print their own lotto coupons, distribute them to their writers to start operations. In cases when a staker won a huge sum of money, the operator either vanished into the thin air, or the amount was paid in installments, to the detriment of the poor staker.

Private lotto operators were milking their customers dry while they were living in opulence. At a time when government needs resources to finance development projects no segment of the society should be allowed to generate profit without fulfilling their obligations to government.

Government's decision to ban the illegal operation is therefore in the right direction. The ban must however not remain within the four walls of the ministry.

It must come out of the offices and hit the streets and pavements where lotto coupons are sold daily.
The ban was issued on several occasions but it did not work.

The security agencies which were expected to enforce the ban compromised with the illegal operators.

They arrested them alright and pretended to have been sending them to the police station, but the suspects returned to continue the illegal operation. It could be anybody's guess as to what happened.

The irony is that while all these were going on the private lotto operators vowed to continue their operations regardless of the new lotto law which prohibited them from doing so.

If therefore government has decided to revive the law, it must back it with action and ensure that it works effectively.

In this particular case, lotto receivers of the Department of National Lotteries (DNL) and employees of the department could play an important role in the enforcement of the law by reporting the illegal activities of private lotto operators.

The excuse of the private lotto operators that if private lotto is outlawed the unemployment situation in the country would become more serious is untenable, because DNL claimed it would be ready to take them on.

DAILY GUIDE calls on government to take a bold stand on the lotto business in the country to ensure that revenue due it do not go into private pockets.