While we are all distracted by the Sibu by-election, the aborted May 13 gathering and the Anwar trial, a lucrative sports betting licence has been re-issued to a company controlled by a familiar figure.
Ascot Sports Sdn Bhd has been re-issued the much sought after sports betting licence. The Abdullah administration had reportedly blocked a similar licence sought by Berjaya.
And who controls Ascot? Vincent Tan (70 per cent) with the balance held by his son Robin.
Berjaya Corp Bhd, also controlled by Tan, is now set to take up a 70 per cent stake in Ascot Sports for RM525 million in cash.
And who receives this cash? Who benefits from this deal? Think. Easy money, huh.
Various figures have been put forward as estimates for the size of the local sports betting market: RM0.6 billion, RM8 billion and even RM20 billion.
Where do you think this money is coming from? Out of thin air? Think again, who are the likely sports betting customers going to be? People from which income group? Of course, some among the middle and upper classes will indulge in social betting as a form of leisure. But won’t the majority be from the over-worked and underpaid lower-income group with illusions of instant wealth only to invariably lose money in the long run? Who profits and who loses their hard-earned money?
Of course, the government and business press say it is good to regulate the market and raise more revenue through taxes, blah, blah, blah. So concerned about raising revenue for the public welfare, huh – and not thinking of the huge private profits?
Remember when the Mahathir administration abolished the publicly managed Social Welfare Lottery (because it was supposed to be un-Islamic)? Next thing you know lottery licences were issued to private firms.
Compare that to the Canadian Lottery system described in Wikipedia:
Today, Canada has two nation-wide lotteries: Lotto 6/49 and Lotto Max (the latter replaced Lotto Super7 in September of 2009). These games are administered by the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation, which is a consortium of the five regional lottery commissions, all of which are owned by their respective provincial and territorial governments:
- Atlantic Lottery Corporation (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador)
- Loto-Québec (Quebec)
- Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (Ontario)
- Western Canada Lottery Corporation (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, Nunavut)
- British Columbia Lottery Corporation (British Columbia)
Primary, 48% of the total sales are used for jackpot, with the remaining 52% used for administration and sponsorship of hospitals and other local causes.