Three weeks of tough negotiations between GOB and Tropical Gaming Company of Belize Limited have ended but the company has no assurance that its Lotto license will be renewed.
It was three weeks ago on Saturday, February 20 that Paula Vasquez won the $90,000 Lotto Jackpot. Since then there have been no further drawings.
Tropical Gaming office at the corner of Queen Street and Barrack Road remains open, but it is no secret that its franchise license is under review.
Inside sources in Belmopan say the state-run Lotteries Commission, seems unwilling to renew the contract with Tropical Gaming. There was talk of another contender with closer ties to the Barrow government vying for the contract.
The Reporter spoke with Chartered Accountant George Swift, who has been representing Tropical Gaming in the negotiations with GOB, at his office in West Landivar.
Swift reported that negotiations were at an end and both sides had agreed to a final draft of the contract.
He provided a copy of the draft contract and a copy of a letter signed by Yvonne Hyde, CEO at the Ministry of Economic Development, confirming that Tropical Gaming would be issued a license to operate in accordance with the term and condition already agreed in the draft agreement.
There was one legal hitch, however, because the Lotteries Act has to be amended to allow the Lotteries Commission to issue licenses for more than a year.
On Friday February 19 the House of Representatives met to consider a Bill called Lotteries Control (Amendment) Bill, 2010, Bill for an Act to amend the Lotteries Control Act, Chapter 151 of the Substantive Laws of Belize, Revised Edition 2000-2003 to limit the life of a lotteries license.
The Government of Belize has decided to give a temporary extension to Tropical Gaming of its license which expired on 24 February. The extension, which will expire on April 30, is to allow GOB and Tropical Gaming time to finalize their new agreement.
Tropical Gaming has requested a new license for five years, but the new legislation means the company will be required to pay a larger share of its profits into revenue.
The company expects to resume its Lotto drawings soon and has been using the time to upgrade its games and expand their reach.
The government has been reluctant to issue a 10 year license, such as was afforded to the new boledo operator.