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Avid lotto players will have to give up their get-rich-quick dreams with the expiry of Uthingo's licence

By unknown | Mar 30, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Lihle Z Mtshali

Lihle Z Mtshali

The lottery's number will be up for a while after the sixth ball drops tomorrow night. That's when current operator Uthin-go's licence expires. A legal dispute prevents Gidani from taking over on Wednesday.

The trade and industry minister, Mandisi Mphahlwa, remains mum about what will happen to the lottery after Saturday, following the Pretoria high court's ruling earlier this month that the correct procedure had not been followed in appointing Gidani as the next lottery operator.

"The minister will be releasing a statement within the next couple of days, but all I can say at this point is that he has to act in a manner that is consistent with the judgment," said an official at the minister's office, who did not want to be named.

South Africa was first bitten by the lottery bug seven years ago and since then the Lotto has made 713 people instant millionaires. Punters' dreams of becoming South Africa's next millionaire might have to be put on hold though, as after Saturday, the sales of lotto tickets will stop immediately until the next legal operator is in place.

Officials at Mphahlwa's office were cagey about the question of which company would compensate people who have bought tickets for multiple draws that go beyond March 31, with our calls being shunted between the ministry and the Lotteries Board and no one willing to comment.

The good news for charities is that the distribution process will remain unhindered. This is according to Sershan Naidoo, spokesperson for the National Lotteries Board, who said that the National Lottery helps some 2000 charities each financial year.

"We raise funds in one year and distribute the following year, so whatever was raised this financial year ending March 31 will still be allocated accordingly," he said.

Brian Beavon, chairman of the Spar Guild of SA, said that despite repeated enquiries to both Uthingo and Gidani, the retail group, which sells a large number of Lotto tickets, had still not been informed of the way forward.

"We have had negotiations with Gidani and 80percent of our stores nationwide have been fitted with the new machines," he said. "We are just waiting for the word to switch them on."

Uthingo's spokesman, Shenanda Janse van Rensburg, responded to queries via e-mail, saying: "Kindly refer all questions with regard to the future of the National Lottery (post 31 March 2007) to the National Lotteries Board or the Minister of Trade and Industry."


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