15 August 2001

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High-tech future for lotteries

By Kurt Sansone

The lotto department may be in for a high-tech future if the foreign companies involved in the three consortia that submitted their bid for the privatisation of the Public Lotto Department, are anything to go by.

Three foreign information technology companies specialising in the gaming industry form part of the consortia, involving Maltese partners, which submitted their bid on Monday.

The offers came from First Lottery Consortium, comprising the Alpine Group and Scandinavian company EssNet; Maltco Consortium, comprising Mizzi Organisation and Greek company Intralot; and Wignalot Consortium comprising the Tumas and Gasan Groups along with US company G-Tech.

The Public Lotto Department has a number of highly popular games, including the National Lottery, Super 5 and the Saturday lotto draw. Government raked in more than Lm4.3 million during the period, January-September last year from the lotteries.

The department has proved to be one of the most successful government departments. However, it has only recently started to utilise the Internet in a limited way to sell National Lottery tickets. TV and mobile phones, on the other hand, are only used to relay lottery results.

The inclusion of information technology companies in the privatisation offers may provide the necessary leverage for the lotto department to tap new technologies to maximise its potential.

The Scandinavian company, EssNet specialises in the design, development and marketing of online lottery systems and services. It also seeks to utilise new channels like the Internet, mobile telephones and digital TV to offer a wider range of services.

InterGame, which is a subsidiary of EssNet was established three years ago to provide gaming services and technology to lottery organisations outside Scandinavia. EssNet and InterGame’s clients receive consultancy and support services from the Norwegian National Lottery.

Another interesting aspect is that Norway’s telecommunications operator Telenor is one of EssNet’s major owners.

On the other hand, the Greek company Intralot provides integrated customised solutions to clients in a number of countries including Greece, the Balkans and East Europe. The company web site claims that it holds a dominant position in Greece and other countries in the region.

It also specialises in the development and design of high-tech products for lottery games.

The third foreign company G-Tech is another gaming specialist. Its teaming up with Gasan, which owns Melita Cable, one of the largest communications operators in Malta, and the Tumas Group operators of the Oracle Casino, indicate a strong technological emphasis by this consortium.

The three offers will be evaluated in the coming weeks and a short-list produced by the first week of October, after which negotiations leading to the eventual privatisation will commence.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt