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The Lottery owners in Kenya are stealing from the wananchi?

Posted by African Press International on June 22, 2008

They are definitely getting rich through a fake scheme. The government must see to it that the owners pay winners and money to charities given out. The government should check if the lottery company owners have hidden foreign accounts. Something is very fishy here. Read between the lines and judge for yourself. API

Lottery firm yet to give jackpot 7 years on

Kenyans hoping to win the Sh20 million jackpot in the Toto 6/49 lottery are in for a rude shock: they have little or no chance of laying their hands on the coveted prize.

The odds of someone who pays on average Sh65 a week to play a combination of 18 numbers winning the top prize are one in 14 million, according to the government agency that regulates gambling.

Seven years after the First Lotto lottery was set up in Kenya by three Bulgarian nationals, it has yet to pay out the top prize, according to the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB).

First Lotto, which has offices in all major towns in Kenya, says about 20,000 players enter the lottery each week paying between Sh1 million and Sh1.5 million.

Toto 6/49 has so far raised at least Sh500 million and claims to have paid out Sh20 million to charity since 2002 when the company was set up. This is contrary to official gaming rules that stipulate that 25 per cent of total earnings go to charity.

According to the company, on average the lottery raises between Sh1 million and Sh1.5 million across the nation every week or Sh6 million a month.

Changed hands

Last year ownership of First Lotto changed hands; the new owner, Club of Clubs, is registered in the Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea.

This transfer came on the heels of the collapse over a Sh70 million debt of another lottery firm operating in Kenya. Playwin, known by its popular name Je Ukipata?, went under in April last year after a foreign investor pulled out of a Sh500 million deal to keep it afloat. While Playwin had promised to dish out Sh10 million every week, it collapsed without anyone ever winning the advertised money.

When the firm went under, the BCLB promised to issue a statement regarding the status of lotteries in the country; the statement was not forthcoming.

A Singapore-based company, together with a local entity Ansellia Holdings, owned that lottery.

Like Playwin, First Lotto has links to the Far East; one of the registered directors of Club of Clubs is listed as Tyng Lee (Chinese). The other is Eekbal Rayani (Kenyan).

First Lotto, which is a subsidiary of Club of Clubs, is owned by Eekbal Rayani, Amin Rayani and Zakir Rayani, who also serves as the chief executive.

Last week Charles Wambia of the BCLB said the body was concerned that no one had won the First Lotto jackpot.

We are working on modalities to have the jackpot won, he said without explaining how the board planned to do this.

Zakir Rayani, who spoke to the Sunday Nation, was at pains to explain why the jackpot had never been won.

Game of numbers

This is a game of numbers, he said, noting that the number of players in First Lotto was so low that it was impossible to win the ultimate prize.

We only have 20,000 players, the First Lotto chief executive said, agreeing with the BCLB that the odds are impossible for so few participants to win the jackpot. This requires that the winner has marked the combination of all six numbers resulting from a weekly draw.

There are 49 numbers to choose from. Betters can play from a minimum Sh25 for six numbers to more than Sh100,000 for 5,005 numbers.

For anyone to win the First Lotto jackpot, the number of participants would have to rise to at least 1 million, Zakir Rayani said.

Nevertheless, the lottery would appear to have become a cash cow for the owners.

The BCLB requires that at least 50 per cent of the money collected be paid out in prizes, while another 25 per cent must go to charity. If a lottery firm takes in Sh6 million a month, then at least Sh3 million should be paid out in prizes and another Sh1 million to charity.

The highest prize First Lotto has ever paid is Sh457,000 in 2006. The June 15 draw came up with a prize of Sh302,000. Mr Rayani said it has yet to be claimed; the winner has 30 days from June 15 to collect it.

While Britains national lottery boasts of creating more than 2,000 sterling millionaires since its inception 14 years ago, First Lotto is yet to claim its first shilling millionaire.

Since March 2007, First Lotto has given Sh350,000 to charity against an income of Sh66 million.

A memorandum of understanding signed between the Association of the Physically Disabled of Kenya (APDK) and First Lotto had been accumulating dust until the Sunday Nation made inquiries last week.

It was then that Duncan Ndegwa, the Nairobi branch chairman of APDK, was summoned to First Lotto offices in Parklands and given a cheque for Sh50,000.

Disabled people

According to the MoU, First Lotto was supposed to employ at least 200 physically disabled people. But since the Rayanis took over the lottery in March last year not a single person from APDK has been employed, Mr Ndegwa said.

In fact, the number of APDK people working with First Lotto has dwindled to 15 from 60 who were initially employed by the Bulgarian owners, he said.

Mr Zakir confirmed the existence of the MoU with APDK but said some of the employees from APDK had left for greener pastures.

He blamed the post-election violence for the companys inability to give to charity as stipulated by the BCLB. The chief executive claimed that the money collected by First Lotto was only enough to run its operations.

He declined to divulge details regarding the use of the money meant for prizes in the lottery.


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5 Responses to “The Lottery owners in Kenya are stealing from the wananchi?”

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  2. julius said

    no prizes are won

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  3. Anonymous said

    tthisj a conmens y dont; they show us the daily draw winners /

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  4. juliius said

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  5. juliius said

    these promotion are leaving people poor

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