CHARLES Arthur is the Managing Director of Winners Golden Chance Lotto, one of the most popular lotto companies in Nigeria. The lotto company is known to always pay their winnings, and also take care of their sub-agents and stakers.
The Ghanaian turned Nigerian had a chat with ENCOMIUM Weekly at his Ikeja, Lagos office and told us all about the beginning of Winners Golden Chance Lotto, how they operate and challenges of operating a lotto business.
Can we meet you, Sir?
My name is Charles Arthur. I am the Managing Director of Winners Golden Chance Ventures Limited.
How has it been managing the affairs of Winners Golden Chance Lotto?
It has not been easy. When you are controlling many people, it is usually hard. Even controlling a family of six is hard, not to
talk of controlling over a 1,000 people. When we have winnings, we don’t find it easy to man the affairs of the company, because people would be rushing. For example, if we sold 30,000 and people won like N10 million, we have to struggle to balance up and it is not easy.
How long have you been managing the affairs of Winners Golden Chance Lotto?
It has been 10 years.
How has the experience been so far?
I can’t complain, it hasn’t been bad. For 10 years, we’ve been growing. Of the 36 states in Nigeria, we are in about 18.
What are the challenges of running a lotto business?
The three challenges for now are fraud, winnings and network problem.
Talking about fraud, people who play lotto always want to win, by hook or crook, so if they don’t win, they would find a way to manipulate it. Day in, day out they advance in their tricks. We’ve known all their tricks. Once we catch them, they regroup to find another way out. At times, it is difficult to catch them, some of them go scot free, and we catch those who are unlucky.
Then winnings, there was a time we sold about N27 million and people won almost N500 million. It wasn’t easy, we had to struggle to pay. We called all our bankers to help, and in about three to four months we were able to recover.
The network problem is general for all lotto companies, just like our network service providers. During the peak periods when we are supposed to sell more, that’s when the network fails, our people will be stranded. If there is no network we won’t make sales and we’ll run at a loss.
What makes Winners Golden Chance Lotto different from the rest?
Actually, I can say the way we pay our winnings stands us out. The way we encourage our stakers and agents is different from the way others do theirs. For our stakers, as long as you play, even if you don’t win, at the end of the month you get something, other companies don’t do that. Second, we are always there for them, if they have problems we assist in ways we can.
Can you give us an idea of how you operate?
The operation is same as others. When we started, we were writing with papers, but now it has changed. When Gov. Fashola came, he asked us to stop using books and use terminals. There was a lot of fraud when we were using books.
There is this perception that people who play lotto are irresponsible and lazy. What’s your take on that?
It is not true. Before people were classifying lotto as gambling, but lotto is not gambling. About three weeks ago, there was a gala night in Abuja, the chairman of the National Lotteries Commission, said it openly that nobody should classify lotto as gambling. Actually, when lotto started, people did not understand. It was the revelers that understood at that time and they were the ones patronizing and playing lotto. But now, ministers play lotto, and many influential people too.
So, do you play?
I used to play but I can’t play anymore, because it is against the company’s policy.
What is the difference between lotto and lottery?
Lotto is a game of numbers, it is 1-90. We put the balls in the machine, the first five balls that come out are classified as the winning numbers. So, if the numbers you predict are part of the five balls that came, you have won. We call lotto, fixed odds because in lotto, before you play you know how much you will win. But lottery is not like that, the organizers of lotteries don’t lose. If they sell N10,000 they will set aside a certain percentage of the sales for the company, and the rest is what is shared amongst the winners. You won’t know the exact amount you’ll get. But with lotto, from the moment you play, you know how much you would get back if you win.
You reward your sub-agents and stakers, what informed this?
We term our sub-agents as the main people doing the business. They are outside selling, and if the sub-agent doesn’t sell nothing will come to us. So, that is why we encourage and motivate them to sell by rewarding them from time to time. We also reward our stakers so they can keep patronizing us. Other lotto companies do not do this.
What brought about your sub-agent forum?
Some of them don’t know what they are doing. They are just selling, so we organize them from time to time to educate them on what exactly they are doing so they can take it seriously, and treat it like a proper job and resume at their shops early.
What’s the idea behind showing your draws on TV?
The essence is to show the public that we are transparent. That’s why our slogan is, No wuruwuru, no magomago.
Why do you think some lotto companies find it difficult to pay winnings?
Some of them are dubious, even though they have the money, they won’t pay. I believe lotto companies that do that don’t mean business. We mean business, so we don’t play with our winnings.
What’s the highest that an individual has won?
Someone won about N180 million.
What’s the difference when you were using booklets and now that you make use of terminals?
The use of terminals has reduced fraud greatly.
How does the lottery board operate?
They regulate all lotto companies, and decide the commission to give to people. They also ensure that lotto companies pay their winnings, they put lotto companies in check. And if we have problems too, they help us solve them.
- TINUOLA JOSEPH