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Today's Date: 31 October 2014
Last Updated: 30 October 2014 18:52:38 EST
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Gambling company pushing Cayman lotto

Playing the lottery.  Photo: File

An international company that has been reported to control some two-thirds of the world’s lottery gambling operations has proposed several different gaming options for the Cayman Islands.

According to information obtained by the Caymanian Compass, reports containing those proposals were presented to Cabinet members last month.

The company – GTECH Corporation – has previously taken what Texas state police investigators referred to in 2006 as ‘sometimes questionable actions’ in pursuing and protecting business interests and contracts.

In a July 2006 report presented to the Texas Lottery Commission, the man who was GTECH’s chief executive at the time noted that “several high-profile company officers have been fired for unethical behaviour and that (the company’s) policy is that that type of behaviour is not acceptable”.

In the report, then-CEO Bruce Turner stated that GTECH no longer conducted operations in a
questionable manner.

The report was presented to the Lottery Commission just before the buyout of GTECH by an Italian-owned firm named Lottomatica. GTECH and GTECH Latin America are subsidiaries of Lottomatica today. GTECH’s US base is in Providence, Rhode Island.

The Texas Department of Public Safety – the state police in Texas – were charged by the state’s Lottery Commission in 2006 with investigating GTECH’s business activities and the “character, reputation and ethics of GTECH”, as well as those of the Lottomatica company.

Investigators pointed out that, during their probe, no “disqualifying criminal history” was found with any of the GTECH personnel interviewed, including those who provided disclosure statements to DPS officers. However, the report did express some concerns on the part of the Texas officers.

“GTECH is a very aggressive business entity that has a past history of protecting its contracts by lawsuit or threat of lawsuit and of pursuing new contracts with sometimes questionable actions,” the Texas DPS report read. “Texas is also well aware of GTECH’s aggressive nature with some well-known and reported infamous historical and unethical events here.”

GTECH was first given the Texas Lottery contract in 1991 and has managed the state’s lotto gaming for nearly 20 years. Its contract is currently up for a 10- year renewal there.

According to the company’s website, the corporation is now run by President and CEO Jaymin Patel. GTECH operates as a gaming and technology company, while Lottomatica S.p.A remains one of the world’s largest commercial lottery operators.

GTECH is governed by a board of directors and Lottomatica is publicly traded and listed on the Italian stock exchange.

Many of the former top executives of GTECH are now listed as members of Lottomatica’s board of directors.

The games

GTECH’s proposal to Cabinet offered a number of gaming options to Cayman, including Instant Ticket Lotto (known as ‘scratch tickets’), Super Lotto jackpot (similar to the Florida power-ball lottery where a minimum top prize is often in the millions), and Pick Four or Pick Three draw games (also similar to the Florida versions).

The company also believes the Keno lottery game would be quite popular in Cayman. This is a game played in bars or cafes where participants often spend time waiting for food or drink service. Players can select as many as 10 numbers from a field of 80 and prizes are awarded for players who match a certain number of picks to the draws that are displayed on TV monitors.

Another game proposed is ‘doubles’, where players pick two numbers from a field of 26 and then another two numbers from an additional field of 26. Prizes are awarded again based on how many matches the draw selected, with the top prizes going to those who have matched the all four numbers.

According to the plan presented to Cabinet, all hardware and tech support, as well as standard operations, would be the sole responsibility of GTECH.

If the proposal is accepted by government, GTECH officials estimated it would take the company four to six months to set up its lottery systems. That would include prospecting for any local lottery retail locations, of which the company estimated there would be about 50 or 60 in the three islands. Individual lottery retail contracts would have to be negotiated and signed.

Training of retail agents would also have to occur.

“Based upon our global experience, the operation of this lottery system in Cayman is expected to generate (directly and indirectly) 125 – 150 incremental jobs or an average of two to 2.5 jobs for every terminal in operation,” the GTECH report stated.

The company proposed a 15-year contract for gaming services with Cayman with certain provisions for extensions if both parties agree.

GTECH officials estimated that between 50 cents and 70 cents of every dollar spent on electronic and instant ticket games would be paid out in prizes. The estimated earnings for government would be 15 cents on the dollar for electronic games and 10 cents on the dollar for instant tickets.

The company holding the gambling license, GTECH Latin America in this case, would be paid between 7 cents and 22 cents on each dollar spent, depending on the game played.

The Brazil investigation

Texas investigators dug up reports from 2004 in Brazil that GTECH had been “involved with individuals who had allegedly solicited bribes from GTECH in order to renew the (lotto) contract”. However, the company claimed that these allegations amounted to extortion attempts by the local parties involved.

DPS investigators admitted the Brazil situation was a complex affair where numerous revelations of corruption involving political officials had been made. Most of those involved bribery by officials of state-owned companies or contractors with the money going for use in political campaigns.

“These were the conditions under which GTECH operated since 1997 as the only provider of lottery services to Caixa, the state-owned bank that runs the national lottery in Brazil,” Texas investigators noted.

GTECH told Texas investigators that it had hired a firm to look into the bribery claims. That firm, GTECH representatives said, produced an initial written report and also apparently made a Power Point presentation to GTECH board members. All requests by the Texas DPS for GTECH to produce those reports went unanswered.

A number of other findings in Brazil prompted concerns from Texas police investigators. 

In April 2006, GTECH legal counsel disclosed to Texas DPS investigators that the company discovered an “improper payment” of US$380,000 made on 10 February, 2003, to a non-profit company known as the Brazilian Institute for Social Development. DPS personnel said Brazilian police considered the institute a “paper company” and suspected it was used for money-laundering and the making of illegal political contributions. The man running the institute at the time had an extensive criminal history in Brazil.

GTECH’s then-CEO, Mr. Turner, noted that the payment was made at the request of one of GTECH’s Brazilian attorneys and that he simply didn’t know what the payment went for. Mr. Turner said GTECH did not wish to pursue criminal action against that attorney because “it would not accomplish anything”.

DPS investigators interviewed a consultant retained by GTECH in Brazil during 2003 to assist in getting its lotto gaming contract extended. The man, Anfranio Nabuco, claimed he resigned from GTECH when he learned the company “was associating with ‘crooks’ and that GTECH was holding secret meetings where he was not invited”. GTECH officials said Mr. Nabuco was fired, but no explanation was given for his termination.

Speaking of the several incidents identified in the Texas report, Mr. Turner admitted GTECH’s Brazil-based employees may have “flown dangerously close to the sun”. 

Other jurisdictions

The Texas Department of Public Safety report also noted that US$1.9 million in payments made by GTECH to a California-based company named Flexx Avitar were diverted to pay officials on the Trinidad and Tobago National Lottery Control Board.

“These alleged payments occurred between 1999 and 2001,” the Texas DPS report noted. “According to media reports, this is one of multiple investigations being conducted in Trinidad and Tobago on GTECH.”

GTECH representatives explained that the company had hired Flexx Avitar to provide community programmes in Trinidad and the agreed amount had been US$2.8 million. This agreement was part of their lottery contract extension.

Mr. Turner, the former GTECH chief executive, told Texas investigators there was no written contract with the Flexx Avitar company. Company board members indicated that they did not expect GTECH would be found to have committed any wrong-doing.

In July 2006, Mr. Turner told Texas investigators that GTECH’s board of directors had expressed concern about a US$20 million loan the company made for a sports stadium in the Czech Republic. This loan was negotiated around the time that the Czech Republic’s contract with GTECH was being negotiated.

DPS criminal intelligence service officers asked Mr. Turner for details of the US$20 million loan. He replied that it was a “necessary business expenditure”.

There were also concerns raised about a US$18 million, ten-year contract given to a consultant who performed a “relatively little amount of work” for the money.

“Similar large payments for little or no work have resulted in alleged illegal activity by GTECH personnel in some countries,” the Texas Department of Public Safety found.

 
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