Phumelela lashes out at GP gambling board

JSE-listed horseracing and betting group Phumelela Gaming and Leisure (Phumelela) this week hit out at the Gauteng Gambling Board (GGB) for ignoring its review of a damning report by the public protector and implementing some of its recommendations. Phumelela said the GGB stopped paying its share of the bookmakers’ levy following a stinging report by public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in April.
“While job losses might in future be part of the strategy to right-size the company, Phumelela wishes to place on record that this situation is brought about by the actions of the Gauteng Gambling Board – a government agency – on the instruction of a highly compromised public
protector,” Phumelela said.

The company’s woes intensified in April after the report by Mkhwebane into allegations of maladministration and improper conduct in connection with the privatisation of the South African thoroughbred horseracing industry in the late 1990s was made public. One of the recommendations put forward by Mkhwebane is that the GGB must stop paying Phumelela the 50% of the 6% the regulator gets from the bookmakers’ levy. For example, if a punter placed a winning bet on horseracing with a bookmaker for R100, he would only collect R94, with the other R6 paid over to the GGB as a betting tax. The GGB would then pay R3 to Phumelela to help finance horseracing in the country.
Phumelela has since taken Mkhwebane’s report for judicial review. However, the company said the GGB has stopped paying over its share of the betting tax due to the “incredibly flawed, biased and unlawful report” by Mkhwebane.

The company also took issue with the GGB’s decision to issue a general notice inviting an expression of interest to develop, own and operate a race meeting licence in Gauteng and to invite an expression of interest to operate a totalisator licence.

GGB spokesperson Wisani Ngobeni said the board could not comment on the betting tax matter as it was before the courts but insisted its relationship with Phumelela had not broken down.

“Before the board issues a final invitation for a licence application, it is obliged to issue a draft request for proposal to invite comments from the public and affected parties,” Ngobeni said.

“Any member of the public and other stakeholders, including Phumelela, has the right to make representations which the board will consider before making a decision.”

By Kabelo Khumalo

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