Belize cracking down on illegal lotto games
BELMOPAN, Belize (CMC) –The Belize government Friday said it is cracking down on persons engaged in illegal lotto and jackpot sales with convicted persons facing fines of up to BDZ$50,000 and imprisonment of not more than five years.
In a statement, the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment, which is responsible for regulating lotteries, said it has been receiving information on several illegal lottery sales.
“The ministry is monitoring these unauthorised operations, and action will be taken against the offenders. Only persons or businesses that obtain a license or have been appointed as an agent by the Lotteries Committee can promote, sell, hold, or conduct boledo lottery, ordinary lottery, or jackpot lottery,” the government said.
“The ministry warned that any person or business that conducts, hosts, or promotes a lottery that is not authorised by the Lotteries Committee is doing so illegally. It is also illegal for a person or business to alter a lottery ticket or sell a ticket that has been altered and is not in the form authorised by the Lotteries Committee. The public is asked to refrain from doing business with these persons or businesses that engage in such illegal activities and to report such acts that go against the public interest,” it added.
The finance ministry indicated that any isolation of the Lotteries Control Act will be dealt with to the full extent of the law with first offence being fined not less than BDZ$10,000, but not exceeding $20,000, or both such fine and imprisonment for a term of not less than one year but not more than two years.
“For a second or subsequent offence, there is a fine of not less than $20,000 but not exceeding $50,000, or both a fine and imprisonment for a term of not less than two years but not more than five years,” the ministry added.
In November, the government announced that it was resuming the lotto from December 1, after it had “paused” the games on May 2, this year.
“After considering the importance of the government lottery, due to its cultural significance and the tax revenues it generates, Cabinet instructed the incorporation of the Belize Government Lotteries Limited (BGLL), a company owned by the Government of Belize and whose core mandate is to administer, sell, and promote the Belize government lotteries,” the statement said.
The government and BGLL said they remain committed to guaranteeing an increase in revenues, which will directly impact the lives of all Belizeans through the expansion of social safety net programmes.