National Lottery Authority sues Vodafone Ghana, Gaming Commission

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

The National Lotteries Authority (NLA) has filed a suit against Vodafone Ghana seeking an injunction to restrain Vodafone from carrying on with its “More Money” game.

The NLA is also seeking to bar the Gaming Commission of Ghana (GCG) from issuing permits to organizations to organise games of chance, which the NLA considers as lottery.

The NLA insisted that the law that established the Gaming Commission stated that the Commission’s Board was the only body that could issue permits to organizations to do games of chance, but since the Commission did not have a Board as of now, they could not be issuing such permits.

Officials of both Vodafone and the Gaming Commission said their lawyers were studying the writ and would respond appropriately in the course of time.

But Vodafone said until its lawyers determine the next line of action, the “More Money” promotion continues.

“If we find that we need to stop until the case is fully determined, we will comply,” a Vodafone official said.

Meanwhile NLA, in that suit, also hinted they want to discontinue with the case in court against Tigo and the Gaming Commission for a similar issue, but the Gaming Commission has hinted it would not allow a discontinuation of that case.

It is not clear why NLA wants to discontinue the Tigo case but the Gaming Commission believes the determination of the Tigo case may have a bearing on any other case between the NLA and other organizations, including the new Vodafone case.

It would be recalled that the NLA hauled Tigo and Airtel to court months ago and got the court to restrain the two from carrying on with their respective customer rewards promotions, which the NLA argued were lotteries.

The NLA last week held a press conference to warn Vodafone and the Gaming Commission to desist from carrying on with the More Money promotion because it was lottery, and Section 4(1) of the National Lotto Act, Act 722, 2006 prohibited any person/organization other than the NLA from organizing lottery.

But the Gaming Commission fired back and explained that it was mandated by law (Gaming Act, Act 721, 2006) to regulate, monitor, supervise, and control all games of chance by all organizations in the country, except National Lotto, which was operated and regulated by NLA.

It insisted that Vodafone’s ‘More Money’ promotion was not a lottery as the NLA suggested, so the Commission said it was ready to make a representation on behalf of Vodafone if the NLA took them to court.

The Commission noted Section 72 of Act 721 which defined games of chance to “include a game other than Lotto in which participants in an anticipation of winning a reward on the results of the game which depends on luck and which cannot be determined before the end of the game, pay money for the right to participate in the game”.

It explained that the key components in the definition of the game of chance were that winning the game must be purely based on chance or luck; the players of the game must pay money for the right to participate in the game; and the winners of the game could not be determined until the end of the game.

On the other hand, Section 56 of the National Lotto Act, Act 722, 2006 said “Lotto means a scheme for the distribution of prices by lot or chance especially a gaming scheme in which one or more tickets bearing particular numbers, draw prices and the rest of the tickets are blank”.

The Commission noted that the National Lotto Act also linked winning a lottery with the permutation of numbers, which is not what happens in the customer rewards promotions of the various companies, including the telecom operators.

But the NLA, at its press conference, also defined a lottery to mean something else other than the definition of lotto in its own law, Act 722.

It is was upon the basis that the definition of lottery, which is not in the Act 722, that it is taking telecoms operators like Vodafone to court because the Act said no organization could organize a lottery.