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Lottery Office to Contest Ruling
BANGKOK, Thailand (December 13, 2000) --The Government Lottery Office will contest an arbitration ruling awarding damages of 2.5 billion baht to Jaco Co for losses incurred due to cancellation of the online lottery programme. Somchainuk Engtrakul, permanent secretary at the Finance Ministry, said the lottery office board disagreed with the arbitrator's ruling based on the belief that the concession was invalid from the beginning. The awarding of the project, he said, failed to comply with guidelines set out under a 1992 law governing private sector contracts with the state. Directors of the Government Lottery Office met yesterday to consider their response to the arbitrator's ruling, which was announced last week. Jaco, a joint venture between Loxley and US-based Gtech, was awarded an eight-year concession to run an online lottery scheme in 1996. Implementation of the project was delayed by both the Chavalit and Chuan governments, and was ultimately scrapped earlier this year by the cabinet due to alleged contract irregularities and strong protests by existing lottery sellers, many of them disabled people. Mr Somchainuk said that while the burden of complying with the 1992 public-private law rested with the state, this did not vacate the responsibility of the private contractor in ensuring that all proper procedures were followed.
The case is now likely to head to the courts.
SOURCE: Compiled by LI staff from local media reports.

Lottery Office Not at Fault for Breaching Contract, Politicians to Blame
BANGKOK, Thailand (December 13, 2000) -- The Government Lottery Office has been ordered by the Arbitration Office to pay Jaco Co 2.5 billion baht in damages for breaching their contract. Jaco, a joint venture between Loxley Co and GTech, had been commissioned by the state to dispense lottery tickets through a network of on-line vending machines. The first reaction from the lottery office director was that he would not pay. He said the damages award was too high and he would try to talk to the company about reducing the payment to 850 million baht in the form of a free lottery quota over a given period. If the company refuses, the lottery office would take the case to court, but only as a last resort. Somjainuek Engtrakul, the permanent secretary for finance and the civil servant ultimately in charge of the lottery office, was more adamant. He said he would contest the damages ruling in court. The matter could drag on for several more years yet before an incontestable decision is reached if that is the intention, but at least one thing is quite clear to both sides-the contract was violated and not by Jaco Co. But nor is the lottery office at fault for this breach of a binding document. The contract was signed by the two parties four years ago, on the very last day of the term of office of the government headed by Banharn Silpa-archa. The deal had the full blessing of Praphat Pothasuthon, then deputy minister for finance. But then Mr Praphat's successor, Chaturon Chaisaeng, deputy minister in the Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh government, suspended the project on the basis of suspected irregularities. Mr Chaturon's successor, Pichet Phanvichartkul, the serving deputy finance minister, went further and scrapped the project altogether in response to protests against the on-line service by blind lottery vendors and dealers.
The lottery office was merely carrying out the orders of its political masters, in particular deputy ministers Praphat and Pichet. If anyone is to be held accountable for this huge potential loss to the state it is these two men. They should be made to clear up the mess they have left behind them.
The on-line lottery project was introduced in the hope of bringing to an end the long-standing problem of overpriced lottery tickets. Lottery players could be happy in the knowledge that, at last after all these years, they would be paying the price for tickets intended by the state. But the project did not receive the support it deserved. There were too many questions surrounding the transaction of the deal-signed on that last day of the Banharn government. And a study conducted later by the Thailand Development Research Institute concluded that vending machines could not solve the problem of overcharging without there being sufficient tickets to meet demand. The scrapping of the deal by Mr Pichet appears to have been political expediency, to head off a protest by blind lottery vendors, some of whom were threatening a hunger strike. The decision was made in full knowledge of the possible legal consequences. As things stand, neither Mr Pichet nor Mr Praphat are expected to accept responsibility for their actions, which leaves the lottery office alone to deal with Jaco Co and the hefty damages bill. The money will have to come from somewhere and you can safely bet it will be the average consumer through higher lottery ticket prices.
SOURCE: Compiled by LI staff from local media reports.

Arbitrator Rules Lottery Office Must Pay Damages for Lost Contract
BANGKOK, Thailand (December 8, 2000) -- An arbitrator has ruled that the Government Lottery Office (GLO) must pay 2.5 billion baht in penalties to Jaco Co for its failure to implement an online lottery sales contract signed in 1996.
Jaco, a joint venture between Loxley and US-based GTech, was awarded an eight-year concession to run an online lottery scheme on the final day of the Banharn government. Both the Chavalit and Chuan governments suspended the project over alleged irregularities. Ultimately, the project was scrapped following strong protests by lottery sellers. The Government Lottery Office had proposed paying damages of 900 million baht, which arbitrators turned down in favour of Jaco's claims in an announcement made late on Wednesday. Chaiwat Pasokpuckdee, director-general of the Government Lottery Office, said the decision would be considered by the office board. If negotiations with Jaco to reduce the fine fail, the lottery office would have to take the arbitrator's ruling to the courts. Jaco reserves the right to file suit for damages for up to one year following the ruling by arbitrators.
Mr Chaiwat said the damages claim filed by Jaco exceeded actual losses incurred from the failure to implement the contract. Included in the claims, for instance, were legal fees charged despite the fact that advisers were full-time staff of Loxley. Mr Chaiwat said starting from the beginning of the contract in June 1997 actual losses incurred from lost lottery sales were calculated by the GLO at 900 million baht. Negotiations between Jaco and the GLO have been ongoing. The lottery office has proposed offering Jaco the right to distribute two million lottery tickets per drawing for eight years, or three million tickets for five years, which it says is equivalent to around 900 million baht for the firm.
Jaco, in turn, has asked for the right to distribute six million tickets for 10 years, equivalent to around 1.2 billion baht.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post.

Government Lottery Office Offers Gtech Joint Venture Company Out-of-Court Deal Lottery Facing B13bn Damage Bill
BANGKOK, Thailand (November 23, 2000) -- The Bangkok Post reported yesterday that the Government Lottery Office has offered to grant an eight-year lottery sales concession to "Jaco Co Ltd," a joint venture between Loxley Plc and U.S. based Gtech. The offer is an attempt to settle a dispute arising from the breach of the online lottery contract by the state. Under the offer, the office would sell six million tickets a fortnight throughout the period to Jaco at 36.40 baht each, against the face value of 40 baht. Jaco could then make a gross profit of 3.60 baht a ticket or 540 million baht a year if all tickets are sold. It could also grant sub-contracts to its agents. The original contract between the two parties called for the office to pay 13 billion baht in damages to Jaco if the terms were violated. The company is considering the offer, waiting first for an arbitrator's ruling next Tuesday. Chaiwat Pasokpuckdee, director-general of the office, said the state agency realised that it would certainly lose the case and wanted to achieve an out-of-court settlement. "A court case will take a long time and benefit no one, so we came up with the offer. I think our offer is the best solution," he said. However, Jaco had earlier demanded a 10-year concession. On Dec 3, 1996, the last day of the Banharn Silpa-archa government, the office awarded Jaco a 1.6-billion-baht contract to run online lotteries. The contract was signed by the then deputy finance minister, Prapat Photasuthon. But Chaturon Chaisaeng, the deputy finance minister of the succeeding Chavalit Yongchaiyudh government, suspended the project, as he believed there were irregularities behind the deal. When the Chuan Leekpai government took over in late 1997, the company pressured the government to honour the contract. At first, Deputy Finance Minister Pichet Phanvichartkul had agreed to ratify it, but the government dropped the idea after facing strong opposition from the public. Eventually, Mr Pichet decided to scrap the contract, prompting Jaco to file a case with an arbitrator. Although Mr Pichet and permanent secretary Somchainuk Engtrakul prefer to see the case going to the court, Mr Chaiwat said he did not think that would benefit the office. Mr Somchainuk wants the case to go to court because the Council of State had ruled earlier that the project was in violation of the public-private joint venture law, which meant it was void in the first place. The act requires scrutiny of all such ventures valued at more than one billion baht. Mr Pichet would prefer a court ruling to avoid political repercussions. He had been accused earlier of taking bribes from Jaco for his stand, which some viewed as favouring the company.
SOURCE: Compiled by LI staff from local media reports.

Grand Jury Indicts 12 for Alleged Illegal Thai Lottery
ST. PAUL (July 8, 2000) -- A federal grand jury has indicted 12 people from Minneapolis and St. Paul for allegedly running a Thai lottery. More than $180, 000 in cash, 28 guns, silver, gold, precious stones and jewelry were found during searches, police said. The lottery allegedly operated for about a year beginning in early 1998. Many of the larger gambling locations were in federally subsidized public housing units. The National Lottery of Thailand is sponsored by the Thai government and is only legal there. The illegal lottery in the Twin Cities used the last two and last three numbers of the National Thai lottery' s grand-prize winning number for its winning numbers. A bet on the winning two-digit number usually paid $60 for every $1 bet; $600 for every $1 on a three-digit bet. The FBI Asian Organized Crime Task Force is seeking community assistance with additional information concerning organized crime or criminal enterprises that victimize the Asian community. Information can be given anonymously by calling the FBI at 612-376-3492.
SOURCE: Compiled by LI staff from local media reports.
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