Gambling board blows millions on overseas trips

The suspended National Gambling Board spent R4.1 million on foreign travel in the past three years, almost a quarter of it on a trip to Las Vegas.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said in a written parliamentary reply tabled today that the board spent R936 723 on sending seven delegates to the G2E gaming conference in Las Vegas in 2011, and R1.6 million last year on attending meetings of the International Association of Gambling Regulators in Germany, France and Denmark.

In the 2012/13 financial year, members flew to Turkey, Tanzania, England, Singapore and Mozambique – racking up travel costs of more than R1.4 million.

A week ago, Parliament’s trade and industry portfolio committee learnt that Davies had suspended members of the board early last month because of alleged contraventions of the Public Finance Management Act.

These included failing to prevent irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure, and the use of a bank overdraft without the approval of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.

The director-general of trade and industry, Lionel October, said in a letter to the committee that the board members had also contravened the National Gambling Act by allowing former members, whose terms of office had expired, to continue participating in the board’s activities and acting as its representatives.

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