Photo: Prime Minister, Hon. Johnny Briceño
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Nov. 23, 2023
Following months of suspicion and speculation about who the owners of MGM Entertainment Limited are, the Government of Belize (GoB) has finally released those details as well as information about the government officials and members of the business community who will be in charge of running the day-to-day operations of the Belize Government Lotteries Limited (BGLL).
Following the signing of contracts and the finalizing of agreements on Thursday, November 23, the Government of Belize Press Office announced that the owners of MGM Limited, one of the two sales distributors for the restructured Boledo enterprise, are Belmopan residents Amy Chen and Jian He Chen. The business, which is listed as having a Belmopan address in its registration details, has been authorized to conduct Boledo and Lotteries sales in the Corozal, Orange Walk, Cayo, Stann Creek, and Toledo districts.
The other successful applicant is Nando’s Wholesale LLP, which has a registered address at 1.5 Miles, George Price Highway, Belize City, and whose partners are Jitendra Nandwani, Ishwarlal Nandwani, and Nandlal Nandwani. The company has been approved to be the distributor for the government lottery in the Belize District, including Caye Caulker and San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.
According to the press release from GoB, “Sales Distributors shall be responsible for distributing the Belize Government Lottery to over 400 sub-agents (resellers) across the country. Sales Distributors will earn a commission from BGLL of 15% on total wagers and will pay sub-agents a commission of 8-10%.”
Narda Garcia, CEO in the Office of the Prime Minister, has been named chairperson of the Board; while Mr. Julio Sabido, CEO in the Ministry of Health &Wellness, and Mrs. Tanya Santos, CEO in the Ministry of Human Development, Families & Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, have been named members. They are joined by representatives of the business community: Mr. Lawrence Ellis, Mr. Horace Grant, Mr. Sanju Chulani, and Ms. Anna Gonzalez, retired manager of the Social Security Board.
Prime Minister Briceño, in an interview with reporters this week, had promised the public that there would be more transparency in the process, about which there had been no available information in the past, according to him.
“Earlier, the company was reporting high payouts, so they have low profits; and when they realized that the government could probably take over, then all of a sudden, the payout got small and the profits got large; and so, there’s nothing on where we could make a basis on what the percentage is supposed to be between us and the sellers, “ said PM Briceño.
According to the Prime Minister, the new arrangement will involve the use of a system similar to what the telecoms have successfully used. As opposed to dealing with individual sellers, the Government will be working with master agents. These agents, according to PM Briceño, had initially requested 25% of sales revenue; however, following vetting by the Contractor General, the master agents agreed to a lower margin.
“The government will be paying out the payments and everything. And if I remember right, they are also required, just like with the telecoms, they have to pay for the tickets, they have to pay in advance, to be able to sell the number which is now being done electronically; so, what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to get the best deal possible for the Belizean people,” said the Prime Minister.
PM Briceño’s comments follow a closed-door signing of contracts which was held on Tuesday, November 21 at the George Price Centre for Peace and Development in Belmopan. The signing, according to a press release, follows the conclusion of the procurement process, which resulted in the signing of contracts with Nando’s Wholesale Ltd. and MGM Entertainment Ltd.
The contracts serve to dissect the country into several Zones, with Nando’s Wholesale Ltd. controlling the Eastern Zone, which is the Belize District, inclusive of the cayes; and MGM Entertainment Ltd. controlling the Northern Zone, which includes the Corozal and Orange Walk districts. MGM Entertainment Limited also has been signed to conduct business in the Western Zone (Cayo District), and the Southern Zone (Stann Creek & Toledo districts).
Under the agreement, sales distributors also have the right to purchase government lottery credit from BGLL for distribution to over 400 sub-agents countrywide who will be resellers of the lottery within each distribution zone.
Sales distributors are also responsible for recruiting and establishing a relationship with such sub-agents and creating sales and distribution channels for the sale of Boledo and Jackpot Lottery through a clearly defined management structure.
Sales distributors will as well be responsible for guaranteeing the immediate payment of winnings by each sub-agent, which in turn shall be reimbursed to the sales distributor by the BGLL for further reimbursement to the sub-agents.
BGLL will also pay sales distributors a commission on total wagers and from such proceeds, sales distributors shall be responsible for paying a commission to sub-agents.
With the completion of these finer details, the Government has promised to meet their December 1st deadline for the commencement of the sale of the Government Lottery, with its first drawing date being Sunday, December 3, 2023.
The Government of Belize has also promised that they remain committed to ensuring an increase in revenue generation, which will directly impact the lives of all Belizeans through increased funding for the National Health Insurance and the Official Charities Fund.