Lottery withstands weak economy and encroaching illegal operators

The amendment of the Lotteries Act and its subsequent application in 2015 has afforded the commission an opportunity to implement key changes

The amendment of the Lotteries Act and its subsequent application in 2015 has afforded the commission an opportunity to implement key changes

The lottery industry remains competitive, particularly because local lotteries are competing with foreign games offered on technological platforms. Online gaming is providing more options for consumers, which threatens the revenue of traditional lottery operators. In view of the threats posed by the proliferation of illegal operators and online retailers the board of the National Lotteries Commission undertook to intensify regulatory compliance, which constitutes the largest component of the commission’s mandate and underpins its grant-making function. We commissioned and finalised a feasibility study on ways to regulate and combat illegal lotteries.

While it is the function of the board to maximise revenue for good causes, the commission places greater emphasis on the protection of the public and National Lottery participants.

Since inception, the commission has been inundated with an overwhelming number of applications — a clear indication of the needs of nongovernmental and nonprofit organisations.

The amendment of the Lotteries Act and its subsequent application in 2015 afforded the commission an opportunity to implement key changes and enhanced the manner in which it engages with and services stakeholders.

The move from the previous system, in which the commission would call for applications during specific periods, to an open call system, where applications are accepted at any time, coupled with the realignment of the commission’s internal processes, resulted in elimination of the backlog of applications and enabled the commission to exceed its 75% target for adjudication of applications within the prescribed 150 days.

In 2017, we hosted our biannual Regulatory Round Table, to gain insight into how the commission’s regulatory activities can benefit both the person on the street and corporates it regulates. The Round Table gave us insights on regulation and its effect on the performance of regulated entities from an international perspective. The Round Table was followed by the National Indaba, where the focus was on funding requirements, funding for impact and the entrenchment of the new key priority areas for funding. The gathering afforded us an opportunity to evaluate the implementation of the 2015 indaba resolutions, identify gaps and challenges faced by nonprofit organisations and develop new resolutions for implementation.

By the end of the 2017/2018 financial year, the commission’s liabilities had been reduced to an all-time low and R2.073-billion had been disbursed, despite a weakening economy and corrosion of the National Lottery territory by illegal lotteries.

2018 saw the National Lottery reached its age of maturity with the celebration of 18 years in operation. During those 18 years, the commission has consistently ensured the National Lottery games are conducted with due propriety and that participants are protected. One of the key regulatory tools employed by the board to ensure the protection of participants, prize money and sums for distribution is the regulation and oversight function exercised over the National Lotteries Participants Trust.

The commission is committed to clean governance and ensures that it performs its functions efficiently and effectively in compliance with the Act, any other applicable law and corporate governance best practice.

Professor Ntshengedzeni Alfred Nevhutanda is the chairperson of the National Lotteries Commission board