Government irregularly picks firm to run national lottery

Muwada Nkunyingi (NUP, Kyadondo County East) said the finance minister should be summoned to the committee to give an account of the regulations. 

Members of Parliament (MPs) are perturbed government identified and hired a company to manage the lucrative national lottery without proper regulations.

The Ag. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board, Denis Ngabirano, told the Public Accounts Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) that they recommended the unnamed company to the finance ministry.

In the interface with COSASE on 1st August, 2023, Ngabirano, and members of the Board, were responding to queries in the Auditor General’s report for the year ending June 2022.

The Board members were tasked to explain how they procured the operator to conduct the national lottery. Ngabirano said that in December 2021, the board advertised and made a call for applications to conduct the national lottery.

“We received five applications which we evaluated and identified an operator. The operator is expected to fulfil certain requirements before the minister signs the license for them,” he added.

According to the Auditor General’s report, four sets of regulations had not been set up, including those to handle complaints and determine disputes and those to handle the disposal of unclaimed prizes.

“The absence of the different regulations has resulted in an unregulated industry with risks of abuse and possible exploitation of gamblers and minors,” reads the report in part.

Yusuf Nsibambi (FDC, Mawokota County South) said it is key to have regulations to manage lottery and gaming centres across the country to ensure users are not taken advantage of.

The CEO cited the Lotteries and Gaming Act, 2016, which provides to conduct a National Lottery on behalf of the finance ministry to raise funds for a purpose defined by the minister.

According to Section 23 of the Act, “the Board shall, before recommending to the Minister to issue a licence to conduct the national lottery, satisfy itself that the person is fit and proper to conduct a national lottery.”

Muwada Nkunyingi (NUP, Kyadondo County East) said the finance minister should be summoned to the committee to give an account of the regulations.

Deborah Kituyi, the Head of Legal Affairs at the National Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board, said they advised the minister through recommendations to have the pending regulations enforced.

“The finance ministry forwarded them to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs for legislative drafting. I am confident that probably by the end of this quarter, we will have these regulations in force,” Kituyi said.

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