P.M. considers scrapping overseas lottery

The Government is considering a wholesale ban on the sale of overseas lottery products, following revelations Sportslotto employees were under investigation for manipulating the gambling products.

The announcement was made by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, during his radio program with Magic F.M. on Wednesday.

The controversy came after two Sportslotto employees made disparaging comments about the company on social media, accusing it of manipulating products sold to consumers. 

A further five from the Samoa Gambling Authority [S.G.A.], oversees the Samoa Sportslotto, were revealed to be part of a probe that they had illegally manipulated the company’s lottery products. 

It is understood the Police investigations – which focused on allegations that Sportslotto employees sold defective tickets to customers – have now been expanded to interrogate claims that lottery tickets sold in Samoa were never entered into draws, meaning consumers were paying for tickets that had no chance of winning.

Sportslotto Samoa, via a relationship with the Australian company T.M.S. Global, sold tickets to a variety of Australian gambling products such as Powerball. 

The Minister of Police and Prisons, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, confirmed the Police investigation in response to questions from the Samoa Observer.

The S.G.A. runs the country's sole lottery ticket vendor Samoa Sportslotto.

Last week the company filed a complaint with the Police against a former staff member, had alleged manipulation of Australian products provided to local consumers via T.M.S. Global Services.

The Prime Minister believes the local lottery should be enough. 

“Our own Sportslotto may be enough,” he said.  

“The Australian lotto also caused some friction in the country when it was first opened.”

Tuilaepa alleged that it is “evident” that there was “foul play” going on in Sportslotto’s overseas operations. 

“This means the many people who had placed a bet in the Australian lotto - because the wins reach millions of dollars - might have won about $2000 to $3000, and it all [instead allegedly] sinks in these employees’ pockets,” he said. 

Tuilaepa alleged the scheme within the office. 

The Prime Minister added he is seriously contemplating the scrapping of the Australian lotto in Samoa. 

“It’s a waste of money going out when we can just leave it here, spend it on our lotto and use it for our local sports,” he said. 

Sportslotto, besides selling lottery tickets for its Samoa National Lotto, also acts as an agent for Australian lottery games OzLotto, Tattslotto and Powerball.

S.G.A. Chief Executive Officer, Tuala Tamaalelagi Siaki, confirmed the termination of the five employees and said he expected Police action on the matter later this week.

A spokesman for Tabcorp, the ultimate holding company for T.M.S. Global, declined to comment citing the ongoing investigation but said the company was aware of the matter.  

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