NLA Director Took Cash Behind The Scene To Grant License?
Several employees of the newly established Sports Betting Company, GoBet231 seem to be unhappy with the level of business taking place there. They have been working for three months without any salary, thus raising some concerns.
A number of them told our reporter who visited their offices on Carey street late Monday that they are undergoing series of problems at the company in terms of payment from management.
One of the workers who only identified himself as James said, “up to now, we have not gotten our salary and many of us are thinking on the next thing to do. But you know, job business is hard so we are carful on what we do.”
GoBet231 is owned by Palm Spring Resort, where some workers also at the Resort have been complaining of payment as well. (But one worker at Palm Spring said they just took pay for November 2018).
When one of our reporters visited the hotel Casino last night, some workers there said the management has some issues which they were trying to settle soon. The worker did not give full details.
“It is true that money business is hard. It is not easy at times here,” the worker declined to give full name.
Another employee at GoBet231 only identified as E-man, confirmed the financial crisis the company is facing at present. He said, “cash business is hard. Business is hard also. The people only give us stipends and are not giving us our salary. It is almost three months now. Every time, they keep appealing to us.”
“The money business is making us to think if the company has money to really do this business. It is hard to say. It is making us to think if they will be able to pay people when they win big money from here,” he added.
It can be recalled that several weeks ago, concerns were raised from several quarters in society regarding what appeared to be series of illegal activities occurring at the National Lottery Authority (NLA) regarding the issuance of sports betting licenses to entities without first conducting due diligence and verifying the company’s financial abilities.
Sources at the NLA alleged that the Director, Mr. Martin Kollie got ‘small cash’ from GoBet231 to grant them license based on installment payment. “Under the law, there is no negotiation for installation payment. Payment for betting company is US$40,000(forty thousand USD) and Casino is US$60,000(Sixty thousand USD) annually.”
“But he allegedly went to take money from GoBet23. He is doing so many things here to make the entity look bad. He knows he will not be here so whatever he can do to destroy the entity, he is doing it,” the source at NLA who spoke on condition of anonymity told this paper.
When this paper contacted Mr. Martin Kollie on phone late Monday, he said “yes, we do know GoBet231. It is a brand name. But granting of license is done by the Chairman of the Board of Directors and members of the board.” He denied granting license to any company. He denied all the allegations.
“It falls under the direct supervision of the vice president of Liberia. There is someone in her office, Titus Charlie is the one you can call to speak on it. I cannot give license to any company alone,” he said
But sources close to the NLA said GoBet231 received sports betting license to operate in Liberia without paying into government revenue the required license fees. Rather an arrangement between the National Lottery Authority and GoBet231 to be granted the license and payment be done on a stipulated basis was done. One source said that is not supported by the Act that created the National Lottery Authority (NLA).
When this paper called GoBet231 office for comment, the phone was off. Another call made to one Ousman, one of the officials for GoBet231, for comment, his phone rang without answer. Also, when contacted Najib, manager of Palm Spring Resort for comment, this paper was told that he was not available. “I have not seen him for two days now. So, I cannot say if he is here or not, an employee at the Resort told this paper on Tuesday.
The National Lottery Authority (NLA) is the agency responsible to grant license to all betting companies in the country.
When Titus was called late Monday, he confirmed Mr. Kollie’s statement. He however said, “the granting of license is with the board. The board looks into the company’s request to see if they are up to task before such license is issued. If the board deems it fit, then, the license can be given.”
“But at times, the determination is made by the board. On Gobet231, I will look into it and get back to you by tomorrow January 22, 2019. I do know that payment is done upfront,” he said
He could not confirm nor deny granting license to GoBet231. He promised to give more clarity on this. TNR