Sunday Times

18 bidders battle to win Lotto licence

- By ISAAC MAHLANGU

The battle for the country’s biggest tender — the national lottery licence, worth about R180bn — is under way as 18 prospectiv­e bidders vie for the prize.

The submission for proposals closed yesterday as the hunt for the fourth seven-year national lottery licence operator started.

The National Lottery Commission (NLC) says the first three operators, Uthingo, Gidani and the current holder, Ithuba, raised a combined R31.1bn for good causes between 2000 and 2023. About 27% of the revenue from ticket sales went to good causes and has funded more than 110,000 projects nationwide since the inception of the lottery in South Africa.

NLC commission­er Jodi Scholtz said that Uthingo, the inaugural lottery operator, raised R7bn between 2000 and 2007 while Gidani brought in R11.4bn from 2007 to 2015 and Ithuba raised R12.7bn between 2015 and December 2023.

Scholtz said 18 entities had paid R55,000 for request for proposal [RFP] documents and were expected to submit bids by yesterday. The request was advertised in August.

“Evaluation and adjudicati­on will immediatel­y commence, culminatin­g in the minister making an announceme­nt on the successful bidder by September 1. The NLC will know the number of applicants only after the closing time,” Scholtz said.

“The RFP document imposes strict confidenti­ality undertakin­gs on both the NLC and the applicants. This is required to ensure that the process is protected from any possible interferen­ce and to maintain its integrity,” Scholtz said.

After receiving the report from the evaluation committee, the board will adjudicate the applicatio­ns and make recommenda­tions to trade, industry & competitio­n minister Ebrahim Patel, who will have the final say.

The previous appointmen­t of operators was mired in legal challenges. Gidani lodged several failed court applicatio­ns against then trade & industry minister Rob Davies, challengin­g his decision to award the licence to Ithuba.

In 2007, the lottery was suspended for seven months after an announceme­nt by then minister Mandisi Mpahlwa that the licence had been granted to Gidani with the inaugural operator, Uthingo, challengin­g the decision in court.

Scholtz said an evaluation committee consisting of financial, legal gaming and IT experts has been appointed to evaluate the latest proposals.

Current licence holder Ithuba has created more than 715-million winners and has paid out more than R27bn in cash prizes since it took over in 2015. It recorded the biggest jackpot of more than R232m, paid to one lucky Powerball winner in February 2019.

Since the lottery was launched 24 years ago, it has created 1,800 instant millionair­es with cash prizes amounting to R54bn, said the NLC. Uthingo created 718 millionair­es, while Gidani created 563 and Ithuba 520.

However, Ithuba is the bigger payer of jackpots since the top-10 biggest jackpots South Africa has seen were hit during its time as operator.

This week, the winner of yet another big Powerball jackpot — R121m — claimed the prize after 19 consecutiv­e rollovers.

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