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State lottery bill to be discussed in House of Representatives

The government is forwarding to the House of Representatives a bill for the privatisation of the state lottery. The move comes amidst legal uncertainty for the fate of privatisations after the relevant law was rendered void by the House of Representatives, with President Nicos Anastasiades subsequently taking the matter to the Supreme Court.

The bill stipulates that the management of the state lottery will be taken over by a private company for a 15-year period. This legislative proposal aims to modernise the framework of operation of the state lottery, allow room for licensing of relevant activities by a private company, and to set a strong regulatory framework through the supervision of the National Games Authority.

It will also grant an exclusive right to conduct national lottery games to the private company, and regulates the organisation, operation, supply, supervision and control of the national lottery games.

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The investor company is stipulated to be a suitable and experienced legal person of private interest who will have exclusive rights to offer lottery tickets. An international tender will be announced by the government by the end of April 2018 to attract the right investors.

The bill does not address the matters related to choosing the private company, since this procedure will be addressed through the tender process.

It is worth noting that once the discussion of the bill is concluded in the House Finance Committee, it will be sent to the European Commission for further checks as it is subject to an EU directive. The bill, says the Finance Ministry, is in accordance with European law.

The private company chosen to manage the state lottery must pay a lump-sum fee to the Republic of Cyprus for the granting of the licence, and will sign a guarantee of good execution of the agreement. From then on, the management company will pay every month a contribution fee for the state lottery. This fee will be a percentage of the gross profit from the lucky games and the state lottery.

The National Games Authority will supervise the management company and conduct administrative checks.

At the same time, the government aims to counter illegal gambling and other lucky games, fraud, and the dangers of addiction from such games.

The government says that, before it prepared the bill, it took into consideration the relevant legal guidelines put forth by the European Court of Justice, which say that every member state is allowed to adopt an exclusive framework of conducting national lottery games, as long as strict, consistent measures are taken and effective regulatory supervision is applied.

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