Sunday lottery to fight illegal gambling in J'ca
Jamaican lottery operator Supreme Ventures Ltd (SVL) says it is in a better position now to compete with the multimillion-dollar illegal gaming business in Jamaica, with that island's government permitting the sale of lottery tickets on Sundays and public holidays.
The measure was part of the Jamaican government's JCA$16.4 billion tax package, which included the state proposing to increase the lottery tax (GPT) rates by as much as three per centage points on nine of SVL's games, including Lotto, Super Lotto and the popular Cash Pot.
SVL boss Brian George described the package as "a balance of sacrifice and opportunity" for the gaming company.
"I think being allowed to offer gaming on a Sunday, the message is 'we are taxing you, but we are giving you the opportunity to grow out of it'," George said on Wednesday.
"There are opportunities to be created by increased gaming," he said. "Illegal gaming operates on a Sunday and that represents a tremendous market that we believe that we have a responsibility to attack."
Illegal operators reportedly earn up to hundreds of millions of dollars annually from their own version of Cash Pot, which George acknowledged is the game that is most easily replicated.
Cash Pot is the top game in SVL's lottery portfolio, representing 76.64 per cent of SVL's lottery revenue at the end of 2011, when the company's annual sales were JCA$28 billion.
Sunday lottery buying in Jamaica had for years been outlawed in the face of strong opposition from the church body, which is against state-approved gambling on what is considered the weekly day of rest for most Christians.
The move to allow the sale of lottery tickets on Sundays and public holidays takes effect April 1. But, effective on that same date, SVL looks set to absorb increases in GPT rates from 17 per cent and 23 per cent to 20 per cent and 25 per cent respectively on nine games.
"It is a fairly aggressive number as it relates to the impact on our numbers," George said. "Certainly you are talking in the vicinity of close to JCA$500 million that would adversely affect us in terms of our business."