Foreign firms and electronic lottery under attack

An Acción Ciudadana lawmaker has launched an attack on the proposed electronic lottery and the foreign firm that will provide the machines and management. The lawmaker’s complaints were echoed quickly by the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados.

At issue is the proposal by the Junta de Protección Social to use the services of two foreign firms to distribute more of the lottery tickets electronically.

GTech Global Services Corporation Ltda. and Boldt Gaming, S.A. of Argentina said they have a six-year contract with the Junta de Proteccion Social to assume operational responsibilities and provide technology goods and services for the online lottery. The contract received approval in May 2012 from the Contraloria General de la República, the nation’s budgetary watchdog.

The lawmaker from the Partido Acción Ciudadana is  Claudio Monge, who said Monday that the electronic lottery will cut in half the income of the army of vendors who now sell paper tickets. He also said that GTech would make a profit from bank interest because it has eight days to remit proceeds to the Junta. Under terms of the agreement, the Junta still will conduct the lottery drawings.

GTech is one of the world’s leading authorities on lotteries and is active in 60 countries, it said. It can provide electronic point of sale terminal as it does elsewhere. The company is a subsidiary of the Italian Lottomatica Group S.p.A.

Both Monge and the employees union said that the agreement violates a law designed to protect the handicapped, No. 7600 because the electronic process will put blind lottery vendors at a disadvantage.

GTech has opened an office in Escazú.

Monge noted that the Junta has been running electronic versions of the lottery for five years and that the vendors have not had a raise in that time.

He said the new deal would cut their income from 12 percent of sales to 6 percent.

He said the Junta’s plan would displace hundreds of lottery vendors to benefit a foreign company.

The Junta has said one reason for the electronic lottery is to combat the several illegal underground lotteries that can be found in Costa Rica.

The Junta de Protección Social has come out with several lottery products to counter the illegal games in the past. There are the tiempos, sort of a daily lottery, and instant, scratch-off tickets.

The Junta has been trying since 2010 to put electronic games into practice. The proposal is to have video outlets all over the country offering smaller instant prizes and also selling tickets for drawings from one to three times a week.

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