Friday May 18, 2012 : ROW BUILDING OVER MALTA LOTTERY
Betco obtains an injunction against government and regulator in Maltco complaint
The increasingly bitter row over who should operate Malta's lottery took a new turn Wednesday when aspirant Betco, which acts for GTech, obtained an injunction, putting a temporary freeze on negotiations between incumbent operator Maltco and the Lotteries and Gaming Authority regulator.
The newspaper Malta Today reports that Betco Holdings is claiming the right to be awarded the contract because preferred bidder Maltco was demanding that the LGA widen its existing exclusivity on other games, in addition to those included in the original tender: namely, the national lottery, Super Five, and the lotto.
Betco claims that while the conditions in the call for tenders clearly spelt out the exclusivity rights, the fact that the discussions have not yet been concluded means the government’s Privatisation Unit must move on to the second bidder.
Betco added that the Privatisation Unit had made a verbal approach to both bidders before the process opened last March, explaining that "…the chosen bidder would be chosen on the financial offer, and that there were going to be no negotiations."
Betco claimed that the injunction is necessary to protect its commercial interests. Should Maltco be granted permission to operate games which were not scheduled in the call for tenders, Betco would be practically excluded from operating any business on the island, it said.
"It is not permissible that after the bidders made their offers on the basis of the call for tenders, those same conditions are changed, violating the principles of equality and transparency which are applicable to any tendering process," the company added.
Betco legal representatives called on the courts to declare the extended exclusivity on other games by Maltco, as "abusive and illegal" adding that, had Betco Holdings known of the extension of exclusivity rights on other games, it would have changed its offer, "but it is too late for Betco to amend its offer since the tendering process is now over."