Banker-to-Banker killing Lotto Business

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 Story by Dennis Asare

The Association of Lotto Marketing Companies in Ghana, which represents the accredited sales force of the National Lotteries Authority (NLA), has alleged that illegal lotto operators, agents and retailors are hiding behind politics to blackmail the Akufo-Addo government.

According to the Association, the activities of these illegal operators, otherwise called Banker-to-Banker operators, undermines the revenue generation efforts of the NLA.

They explained that operators of Banker-to-Banker, whose operations which are akin to ‘Goro Boys’ at the state institutions like the Passport Office and others, are pirating its winning numbers, to the extent that they have succeeded in annexing a large segment of the NLA’s market, to the detriment of the national economy.

For some time now, a group has been on the neck of the NLA over what they said was bad behaviour of the Authority, led by its Director-General, Mr Osei Ameyaw.

As if condemning the Authority was not enough, the group, which the Association of Lotto Marketing Companies described as illegal, also called for the head of the Director-General of the NLA.
They alleged that the management and Board of the Authority were doing their best to kick them out of business.

At a press conference held in Accra yesterday, the Association, through its General Secretary, Kofi Frimpong, expressed grave concern about the manner in which illegal lotto operators, agents and retailers, known as “Banker-to-Banker, are attacking the management of the NLA in its attempts to sanitise the Lotto Business.

He could not fathom why these people would have the audacity to be making “ugly noises” in the press to create the “erroneous impression” that the NLA wants to kick them out of business without any justification.

Explaining the modus operandi of these illegal lotto operators, Mr Kofi Frimpong said: “They (illegal operators) bind “Off Cuts”, i.e. pieces of plain papers, which have no serial numbers, which they sell as lotto tickets to the unsuspecting staking public. The proceeds, which run into billions of Ghana Cedis, go into their private pockets, thus, amassing wealth at the expense of the nation.”

The General Secretary further bemoaned that these people do not pay tax, and, therefore, have no tax identity, saying: “By the acquisition of their filthy wealth, they have become powerful lobbyists and clever manipulators. They now have the power to use politics to blackmail governments for them to be allowed to do the wrongs things that they are doing, which leaves much to be desired.”

He said the Board and management of the NLA, upon assumption of office barely two years ago, have noticed that the activities of the Banker-to-Banker operators had been posing a serious threat to the continuous existence of the lottery institution.

As a result, its sales or turnover keeps on reducing drastically, hence, the measures being put in place to streamline its operations.

The Association said the NLA had extended an invitation to all illegal operators to come and register with it, obtain a license under Terms and Conditions, and be allocated with Point of Sales Terminals, a move aimed at ensuring that nobody becomes unemployed.

“To ensure that there is transparency, accountability and credibility, which are in line with acceptable standards in the game, payments of prizes and sales commission [are] to be standardised to ensure fairness and equity in the business, and to expand the business of the automated system by abolishing the use or raw paper by the ‘legal operators’.

The NLA, the Association noted, had taken over the running of the Veterans Administration Ghana (VAG) Raffle. This is to avoid a situation where the illegal lotto operators use it as a cover to pirate the NLA’s operations. This is to provide sustainable cash flow to our veterans who have sacrificed their lives to defend the country.

The Association further said the activities of the illegal operators had impacted negatively on its members, plunging most of them into a suffocating debt burden.

Meanwhile, the Association has pledged its support for the Board and management of the NLA, assuring them of their total backing for the measures they are introducing to ensure that National Lotteries becomes a major source of revenue for the state.

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