Blunder with new lotteries law forces companies to act illegally

LEGAL drafters have omitted a section of the country’s new lotteries law which, in effect, forces companies to act illegally as non-profit organisations when they want to run competitions and promotions.

This was yesterday revealed during public consultation meetings on the implementation of the Lotteries Act and its amendments by the board secretary, James Einbeck.

“Unfortunately between the legal drafters, the Cabinet, the parliament and the minister (of environment, forestry and tourism Pohamba Shifeta), that provision has been left out. The company wanting to conduct a promotional competition needs to notify the board in terms that the board should charge a fee for that,” .

Einbeck said the omitted section said companies wanting to host their promotional activities would be charged a fee. As a result, companies have to act as benevolent societies (non-profit organisations) when they request exemption from the act.

“The board has taken a decision to avoid this scenario to then put up a board notice where they require, although you are not a benevolent society, and that’s the only form that has been generalised as the board does not have the form for it. We have to alternately use that form for you to apply to be given a certificate which is valid for one year. Apart from that, they have the provision to request exemptions in terms of your pricing and competition,” – Einbeck said.

This omission has created discontent among industry players saying they have to illegally act as benevolent societies despite not being such. Most companies are not benevolent societies. Einbeck revealed this information after members of the industry complained about the illegality and the exemption they are required to apply for.

Avani Windhoek Hotel and Casino general manager Rudi Putter yesterday said the difficulty with the exemption process is that it would require their company to apply for about 130 of these activities.

“Does the board expect us to get each one of those 130 machines approved until that promotion, because it falls under that definition? Do we apply for each one of these machines for an exemption? It will be about 2 000 to 3 000 applications for my business,” – he said.

Environment, forestry and tourism deputy executive director Saimy Shidute said there is a thin line between gambling and lottery activities.

“We might not have applied our minds in terms of promotional competitions when it comes to devices that fall under gambling activities. It is something we will have to interrogate in detail and see whether there is some missing link,” – she said.

For exemption from the provisions of the act to be approved, chairperson of the Lotteries Board Michael Mutonga would sign it off at his convenience and report to the board.

The Lotteries Board meets more often than prescribed, and its subcommittees meet as often as they see fit. This was confirmed by Shidute at the meeting. Putter said the ministry should have extensive consultations with the industry before amendments are passed.

“We have requested so many times that before an act is promulgated that is going to have a far-reaching effect on all of us, please just consult us. The Gambling Act before allowed for three rounds of consultations and extensive input has been given,” – he said.

Risk and compliance manager of Namib Mills Cameroon Kotze questioned the board’s reasoning.
“But why must we why act like benevolent societies?” he asked.

O&L Group compliance manager Aimee Alexander raised similar concerns.

“We have been told to register as a benevolent society, which now has happened without us applying to do so. We applied for an exemption for promotional competitions, then we were informed we need to register as a benevolent society, which we are not,” – Alexander said.

The amendments to the Gaming and Entertainment Control Act and the Lotteries Act came into force on 1 December 2021. The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism also appointed the new Gambling and Lotteries Board, which commenced with duties on 1 December 2021. Both boards will have consultations in all 14 regions.


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