Accra, The Chief Justice, Justice Georgina Theodora Woode on Wednesday inaugurated eleven lotto courts across the country to facilitate the prosecution of lotto-related offences.
The courts include circuit courts one and eight in Accra, circuit courts B in Tema and Koforidua, circuit court 4 in Kumasi, circuit court A in Sunyani, circuit court one in Cape Coast, and circuit courts in Takoradi, Ho, Tamale and Wa.
In a speech read on her behalf, the Chief Justice, said the National Lottery Authority (NLA) was established by the National Lotto Act 722 of 2006, to regulate, supervise, conduct and manage national lotto and provide for related matters.
She said in recent times, the Authority’s functions provided by the Act and the Lottery Regulation, 2008 (L.I 1984) have come under serious threat through the activities of illegal private lotto operators popularly known as Banker to Banker.
She said the lotto-related offences created under the Act include, offences in relation to a coupon contrary to section 19 of the Act, which criminalizes the manufacturing, distribution, selling, offering or displaying for sale coupons in contravention of Section 18(2) of the Act, and offences in relation to the National Lotto draw and foreign lottery contrary to sections 27 and 29 of the Act.
Justice Woode said the establishment of the lotto courts was to create public awareness and to help reduce the activities of illegal lotto operators, as well as send a word of caution to illegal operators and to demonstrate the readiness of the judiciary to excel in the performance of its function in the maintenance of law and order in the country.
I have been assured by management of NLA that judges who are assigned to these courts will receive regular training to give them a better appreciation of the legal issues involved in illegal lotto operations so as to enable them to handle cases efficiently and impose sentences that commensurate with the offences.
She noted that the Judicial Training Institute has a faculty to train prosecutors in specialized areas to enable them effectively prosecute their own cases, while urging the Attorney General to encourage the other state institutions to prosecute their own cases particularly those of specialized character.
Mr Kofi Osei Ameyaw, Director General NLA, said under the National Lotto Act, 2006 and Lottery Regulation 2008 any person or group of individuals that operates lotto without the prior approval of authority acts illegally.
He noted that these illegal lotto and lottery activities had adversely affected the operations of the NLA in terms of revenue mobilization for government.
The Director General said it most worrying because these illegal operators also do not ensure the enforcement of the responsible ‘Gaming Policy’ which restricts and prohibits the involvement of persons under 18 years from playing the game of lotto.
This is against the laws of Ghana and the code of conduct and ethics of the World Lotter Association which is the global body that regulates the policies and ethics of the game of lottery for member states which the NLA is a member.
Mr Osei Ameyaw said the launch of the courts was to send a signal to all, demonstrating the NLA’s preparedness to work assiduously to bring all stakeholders in the industry together within the framework of the law.
He reiterated that the NLA was not out to witch hunt illegal lotto operators but rather to exhibit their readiness to embrace and give them the opportunity to operate within the framework of the law.
It is our expectation that, when all illegal lotto operators come on board, revenue generation into the consolidated fund for social developments would be boosted. However we shall not relent in our efforts to sanitize the industry.
Source: Ghana News Agency