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THE BIGGEST PRIZE OF THEM ALL

23 Jan General

Johannesburg – The search for South Africa’s first lottery operator entered its final phase yesterday when the three consortiums vying for the lottery licence handed their bid documents to the National Lotteries Board. The three consortiums, Uthingo, a 70 percent South African-owned group, Moraba, a 100 percent South African-owned consortium driven by gaming group Moribo Leisure, and Lottoyethu, also a wholly South African-owned group led by Hosken Consolidated, must now wait until April to hear who has won the bid. Ajay Sooklal, the trade and industry department’s director of gambling and lotteries, said the bid documents would now undergo evaluation by the lotteries board. “The board will then choose two bidders, the preferred bidder and the reserve bidder, and they will then make a recommendation to the department of trade and industry (DTI) at the end of April,” said Sooklal. The DTI will then conclude a licence agreement with the preferred bidder, after which the bidder can start constructing the required infrastructure. Should talks with the preferred bidder fail, the DTI would begin negotiations with the reserve bidder. Sooklal said the winning bidder was expected to start work on its infrastructure, a national network that is to reach more than 25 million adults around the country, by June this year. “When choosing the operator for the national lottery, the board will look for a group that represents economic empowerment, promotes social responsibility programmes and is financially sound,” said Sooklal. The winner of the national lottery licence would have to pay R1,5 million in licence fees and invest up to R1 billion in the next five to seven years in building up the national network. The eventual launch of South Africa’s first national lottery will also mean the end of all existing scratchcard and lottery operations in South Africa, and is expected to generate up to R6 billion a year. The DTI said half of the proceeds from the lottery would be used for prize money, 30 percent would go to good causes and 20 percent would cover the expenses of running the lottery. With effect from the handing over of the bid documents, the bidders for the national lottery have been barred from speaking to the media by the DTI. Sooklal said this was to ensure that the media did not have an opportunity to influence the decision on who wins the lottery bid.

Source: Business Report – Bontle Headbush