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Jamaica Lottery Recovers

InternationalInternational: Jamaica Lottery Recovers

Supreme Ventures Ltd., Jamaica's sole lottery company, has seen a substantial recovery in its business since the Government decided to lift the tax it had imposed on winnings last year.

The company is also looking forward to expanding its business over the next 12 months and this will include the introduction of a third daily Cash Pot draw, a Caribbean Pin Ball Lotto and several new instant win games, better known as Scratchers.

Bryan George, president of Supreme Ventures who made the announcement during an interview with Wednesday Business, said the company's sales are now averaging over $37 million daily and this had created room for expansion.

"We plan to expand the games that we offer and we plan to continue to re-examine the games," he said. "I have spoken publicly about the fact that we are involved in West Indies Cricket discussions and hopefully we will do this, but we do have expansion plans certainly within the next 12 months".

Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. Omar Davies, announced on December 15 that the Government had rescinded its full-scale implementation of a 15 per cent tax on all lottery winnings imposed on September 1 last year. The tax now applies to winnings of more than $15,000. Mr. George said that while the current sales figure of $37.5 million daily falls below projections, it had been a substantial recovery for the company. He said that prior to the imposition of the tax on winnings, the company's sales were averaging about $40 million per day.

"We went down to as low as $18 million and we are back up to about $37.5 million, so we have substantially recovered, but just not getting to where we should be," he added.

Supreme Ventures started operations in June of 2001 and quickly overtook its sole competitor The Jamaica Lottery Company (JLC), acquiring the controlling interest in that company on December 18 last year. This gives it control of almost 80 per cent of the island's overall betting and gaming market, which includes slot machine operations and horse racing.

The level of business was not where the company had expected it to be a year ago, but Mr. George said he was pleased with the way the recovery was taking place.

He pointed out that while the threshold imposition on the winnings tax had assisted in the recovery of business, the company was still facing challenges from the illegal agents selling its games.

He said he hoped that the increasing vigilance of the Betting, Gaming & Lotteries Commission and its decision to impose stiffer fines on both sellers and buyers of illegal lottery tickets, will allow for a further recovery.

Forum

On Sunday, Supreme Ventures held its first forum for agents since the acquisition of the Jamaica Lottery Company (JLC). The over 800 agents who were in attendance were updated on the company's performance and its plans for the future.

The company has undergone a review of its agent network with their old contracts being cancelled. Supreme Ventures and the JLC had a combined agent force of 1200 before the December merger.

Jamaica Gleaner

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