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MALTATODAY 27 March 2022

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12 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 27 MARCH 2022 NEWS Labour holds 12 District: 2017 PL (2017) 47.50% PN (2017) 51.00% AD 0.90% Others 0.60% 13 District: 2017 PL (2017) 51.20% PN (2017) 47.80% AD 0.50% Others 0.50% PL frontunners PN frontrunners The rest Don't know 46.1% Don't know 48.4% The rest District 13 Gozo MATTHEW VELLA THE gaming company that has acquired a lucra- tive 10-year concession to run Malta's national lottery games will increase Lotto payout ratios in a bid to tack- le illegal gaming. National Lottery plc will in- crease payout ratios for the Lotto game, one of several offered under the national lottery concession, to tackle what is believed to be a clan- destine network of parallel betting with the official na- tional lottery games. The IZI group's prospectus for a €30 million bond issue, published earlier this week, announced that it would in- crease payouts for the Lotto game "to curb the rampant illegal gaming linked to this game." The illegal lottery involves a network of runners who take illegal bets on the Lotto and Super 5 numbers, in parallel with the official games. The illegal gaming is worth mil- lions, according to industry sources. IZI Group's €30 million bond will finance a €16.2 mil- lion spend for its recently-ac- quired national lottery con- cession, which includes new hardware terminals, lottery software systems, extended real estate and staffing; and €8.5 million for IZI's Drag- onara Casino management system and software, build- ing, new slot machines and gaming tables, and IT; as well as €3.9 million for IZI's net- work of retail gaming outlets. The IZI group registered over €20.1 million in reve- nues in 2021, with a net loss of €946,000. The group has assets of over €42 million in retail gaming stores and the Dragonara ca- sino property, apart from €97 million in valued goodwill from its subsidiaries for a to- tal €85 million in equity. Its last bumper year was in 2019 from its retail gaming outlets, where it registered a €30 million net profit right before the onset of the COV- ID-19 pandemic. IZI's revenue is primarily generated from gaming ac- tivities of its customers, but COVID-19 negatively im- pacted disposable income. In response to the pandemic, in the years 2020 and 2021, the Group was required to tem- porary close or restrict access to its gaming premises. "The imposition of preventative and containment measures has had, and may continue to have, a negative impact on expectations relating to the IZI Finance Group's gaming operations, with the suscep- tibility to the risk of a reduc- tion in revenue," the finance company said in its prospec- tus. Rival lottery bidder Sisal Malta, a consortium made up of Italy's Sisal Lottery, Austria's Scientific Games International, and the Eden Leisure Group Limited, has challenge the finance min- istry's award of the National Lottery 10-year concession to IZI's subsidiary National Lottery plc. The company is contesting Sisal's claims. The concession was grant- ed to National Lottery plc for €105 million. IZI is still negotiating a €45 million loan with a Maltese bank to finance the first €40 mil- lion payment to the Maltese government, apart from a €4 million performance security requirement. National Lottery plc will be continuing the operation of the Grand Lottery, the Lotto, Super 5, Tiritombola, FAST- KENO, scratch-cards, sports betting, and electronic gam- ing machines. The company aims to in- troduce a secondary sales network for lottery games, adding French horse racing to sports betting, extend- ing opening hours for lotto stores, introducing a Super 5 second chance draw and a bi-weekly Lotto draw, and in- crease the Lotto payout ratio "to curb the rampant illegal gaming linked to this game." Lottery payout to increase in bid to tackle illegal parallel gaming GOZO Minister Clint Camill- eri is on course to take the li- on's share of votes, eclipsing Anton Refalo. In the last gen- eral election, Camilleri had placed third with 2,466 first count votes behind Refalo and Justyne Caruana. Refalo had topped the list with 4,853 votes. However, with Carua- na no longer in the race, the survey suggests that Camilleri could turn the tables on Refa- lo and claim the top spot. The third seat for the PL on the district will be determined by vote transfers and is likely to see a hotly contested race between surgeon Joe-Etienne Abela and Xagħra Mayor Christian Zammit. Abela could have the upper hand because his surname places him at the top of the list. Elected in 2017 Anton Refalo (1st count) Justyne Caruana (17th count) Clint Camilleri (18th count) Clint Camilleri MP 31.4% Anton Refalo MP 19.1% 1. Joe-Etienne Abela 2. Christian Zammit Chris Said MP 18% Alex Borg 14.8% 1. Claudette Buttigieg MP 2. Kevin Cutajar MP VETERAN MP Chris Said and newcomer Alex Borg go head-to-head for the PN's top spot on the Gozo district. Said appears to have the edge over Borg but everything shows that incumbent MPs Kevin Cutajar and Joe Ellis could miss out on a parliamentary seat. Neither Said nor Borg are contesting on a second district, which means there will be no casual elections in Gozo. Elected in 2017 Chris Said (1st count) Marthese Portelli (15th count) David Stellini (casual election) Frederick Azzopardi (extra seat proportional mechanism)

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