Commissioner’s suspension casts shadow over regulation of sports betting in Ghana

Peter Mireku – Gaming Commissioner

In November 2022 Ghana Business News published a two-month investigation into sports betting in Ghana and the potential of addiction among the country’s youth. During the investigation, we wrote to the Ghana Gaming Commission seeking information on how much Ghanaians spend on sports betting in a year, but the Commission wrote back to say it didn’t have that information.

Meanwhile, the Commissioner has been on suspension since December 2022 for breaching procurement processes.

Two senior officials of the Commission, Peter Mireku, the Commissioner and the head of legal, Gifty-Rita Amoah were both suspended for breaching procurement processes. They are still on suspension.

Mr Mireku was given a two-month suspension and Ms Amoah got a three-month suspension, which started De­cember 20, 2022. While the games commissioner’s suspension would end February 19, 2023, Ms Amoah would start work on Monday March 19, 2023.

The letters announcing the suspension dated December 16, 2022 and signed by Kofi Adu-Peprah on behalf of the Commission’s Board were copied to the Chief of Staff, Madam Akosua Osei Opare, Attorney Gen­eral, Godfred Yeboah Dame, Minister of the Interior, Ambrose Dery and the Board chair­man, Gary Nimako Marfo.

The suspension was carried out on the advice of the Attorney-General.

The letter said: “Reference is made to the Attorney-Gen­eral’s advice by letter No. D19/SE.177 dated September 2, 2022 in respect of the Gaming Administration and Monitoring System’s (GAMS) purported contract between the Gaming Commission and Turfsport Ghana Limited.

“Upon deliberations of the Board, it has been unanimously agreed that, you should be sanctioned for your involvement in the pro­curement process for the stated breaches, as advised by the Attorney-General” the letter addressed to Ms Amoah stated.

“The Board has also noted with dismay your refusal and/or neglect to respond to the letter dated November 28, 2022 requesting you to furnish the Board with your written response to the procurement breaches cited by the Attorney General.

“The Board has unanimously resolved to suspend you from duty for a period of three months without pay for your role in the impugned procurement process,” the letter added.

The letter to Mr Mireku read: “Upon delibera­tions of the Board, it has been unanimously agreed that, you should be sanctioned for your involvement in the procurement process for the stated breaches, as advised by the Attor­ney-General.”

“The Board has unanimously resolved to suspend you from duty for a period of two months without pay for your role in the im­pugned procurement process. Note that, you will neither be paid salary nor allowances for the period,” the letter said.

The Commission was established by the Gaming Act 2006 (Act 721), to regulate, control, monitor and supervise the operation of games of chance in the country.

The Commission is also responsible for issuing licences to all gaming operators and permits to companies and individuals who wish to run promotions with elements of games of chance.

The findings of our investigation of the impact of sports betting on youth in Ghana is concerning and needs to be addressed. Young people, unemployed and under employed, are taking to betting as a means of living through the economic challenges facing them, and if the head of the Commission which has responsibility for ensuring that the country’s youth, especially under-age betters are protected, is a subject of sanctioning for breaching procurement processes, then that should raise anxiety among citizens about the commission’s ability to efficiently regulate sports betting, and for that matter all other forms of gambling in the country.

By Emmanuel K Dogbevi
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