The National Lottery Authority (NLA) says it has paid some GHc10 million in cash to people who had won its draws and were owed by the institution.
The amount is part of some GHc16 million sitting on the NLA books when the current Director-General, Samuel Awuku, took over the reins of the state lottery company about two years ago.
Speaking to some journalists over the weekend, Mr Awuku, described the debt situation as very common with the global lottery industry and not peculiar to the NLA.
He explained that aside technical challenges, delays in settling the win has been because some of the processes leading to the wins had to be investigated to determine whether the systems were compromised in the process adding, in certain jurisdiction, the lottery company had to go into a negotiated payment arrangement with the winner.
He was, however, hopeful that the remaining GHC6 million would be settled by the end of August, this year as the company has been making revenue and been contributing into the consolidated fund and others like U-start and Good Causes Foundation, the NLA’s charity programme.
The NLA has announced the purchase of four new ultra-modern lotto draw machines from a US-based company located in New Jersey called Smartplay, to replace the current Godmother Machines which have become antiquated and would be put in a lottery museum yet to be constructed by the NLA.
The procurement of the four machines at a cost of US$450, 000 according to the NLA boss, together with some accessories, according to him went through all the procurement processes.
The NLA board with the approval of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA), he assured, bought the machines from Smartplay, through a sole sourcing arrangement by way of restrictive tender since the machines have security features which must not be compromised by leaving it in the hands of ordinary people. The procurement was done based on comparisons with some manufactured by a French company.
According to officials of the NLA, since its establishment, the Godmother Machines have not been changed and have been phased out of the system making the availability of parts difficult to get.
“The new draw machines are to help enhance what we do and apart from the fact that people are superstitious, they seem to be addicted to the old draw machines. We can no longer use those machines because they are now obsolete, the parts are not available anymore and they are not even being manufactured anymore”, NLA Director–General said.
Mr Awuku, said in all, the Authority has secured four machines so far and expects to add three more to completely whip out the old ones. The new draw machines would enhance the efficiency and integrity of draws and they were built to meet the World Lottery Authority (WLA) required standards and specifications.
Sammi Awuku continued: “Some of our old Lotto Marketing Companies are so addicted to the old draw machines and once we start using the new machines then they would start to complain once again that I do not want them to win.
“But I want to amplify our voices that the world has moved on and we cannot continue to rely on machines that are 26, 27 years old where the predictability is high. If it is a game of chance it must be a game of chance and not a game of spiritual powers where people believe that if this machine is not there I cannot win.
“The new draw machines would be used for the Monday Special, Midweek, Friday Bonanza and the National Weekly Lotto. So we are going to use them side-by-side with the old machines until we completely phase out the old ones by early next year”, Mr Awuku added.
The Director-General spoke about the need for the NLA to upscale the level of already high integrity it has achieved for itself across the globe as this would lead to an increase in revenue.
He said some African countries were illegally relying on the draws of the NLA because of its integrity.
Nigeria, he cited, was hitherto making a cool estimated $10 million on a daily basis from the draws on the NLA but talks between the Authority and the stakeholders in that country have achieved some successes and now Ghana benefits some of the proceeds.
He said with the right measures put in place, Ghana can benefit more from other African countries.
The NLA Director-General complained about the activities of illegal lotto operators and how their activities take money directly away from the Authority yet when the culprits are arrested, the laws are very lenient on them.
He said, unlike other countries, operating illegal lotteries has been greatly discouraged because of the severe penalties that the laws have attached to them.
The NLA Director-General, also disclosed plans to revamp the Veteran Association of Ghana (VAG) Lotto, which it runs for and on behalf of retired military officers to make it more vibrant and attractive to the public. A re-launch of VAG lotto is expected on August 1, this year.