Shares in the new UK lottery company Chariot have plummeted 96% after ticket sales fall short of expectations, the French national lottery is on the defensive after offering an out of court settlement to a player, and in India a government ban on Internet lotteries has been set aside by the Karnataka High Court. In the latter two cases it is the question of fairness that has been raised.
In India judges have ruled that a 24 June 2004 government ban on Internet lotteries is contrary to the law. Whilst upholding the right of government to ban lotteries, the court maintained that it could not ban only one kind – online. The plaintiffs in the case, two lottery agents, contended that the notification of the ban violated the state constitution. Should the government wish to continue to ban Internet lotteries it will have to amend the law with due legislative procedures.
The case in France involves the offer of a €450,000 (US$583,000) settlement to a player who claimed that lottery scratch cards misled the public by not being distributed on a random basis. It was also alleged that French television censored reporting of the case so as not to jeopardize €56 million of lottery advertising revenue. A four year inquiry into the randomness of scratch cards showed that in each batch of 50 cards there is never more than one card paying €20 or over.
The state-run lottery, La Française Des Jeux, denied seeking a deal but has admitted that its cards are distributed in a ‘preponderantly random’ way as permitted under French Law. However, it has now been shown that the plaintiff, Robert Riblet, was offered ‘compensation’ for the work and costs involved in his research. France’s lottery scratchcard games, 17 in all, generate annual sales of €3.5 billion (US$4.5 billion). M Riblet, a businessman from eastern France, is suing La Française Des Jeux for €2 million.
The Monday lottery run by Chariot claims to be a fairer alternative to the National Lottery. In its first draw last month heavy Internet traffic caused slow response times on the website and fewer than expected players were able to participate. In its first four draws Chariot has raised £520,000 (US$672,000) for charity and paid over £250,000 (US$323,000) in prize money. The company has said it will implement a new business plan and raise funds by a share placing. Players of the online lottery can nominate a specific listed charity to benefit from their entry fee, and Monday pledges to contribute a greater proportion to charity than the National Lottery. (E-06.05.06)
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