Gaming the Lottery

In Mali, does PMU ride for the party in power?

It is up to the RPM party to offer loincloths to its activists on the eve of the festivities of March 8, 2017. But when Pari mutuel urbain (PMU-Mali) – Malian mixed economy company in which the Malian state holds 75% of the capital, does it in its place – there is nothing more illegal.

Sunday February 26 at 10:10 am Three minibuses struck in the colors (green-yellow-red) of the PMU Mali company stop in front of the imposing headquarters of the RPM located at the racetrack. A small handful of women flock to these vehicles to reassure themselves of the supply: these are several balloons of loincloths free of charge for women of the RPM party during the festivities of March 8, 2017.

“These loincloths are a donation from the RPM to its activists,” says a baron of the ruling party. When asked why PMU vehicles deliver the package, the elite “weavers” kick in.

When questioned, an influential woman in the political party of the president, drives the point home: “It is a gift from PMU Mali”. Version that would suggest that, this entity would have become the sounding board of the RPM. So a state-owned enterprise serving a clan?

“It’s very wrong! I personally contributed up to 300,000 CFA francs as a shareholding “, retorts, without evidence, the now Minister of the Digital Economy, Harouna Modibo Touré, CEO of the company at the time of the events.” Financing a political party with money from a public structure is illegal from a legal point of view”, suggests Moussa Coulibaly, lawyer at the Malian Bar which emphasizes that the resources generated by PMU Mali must be put available to the State to finance development or public interest actions.

According to our investigations, Harouna Modibo Touré is not his first gesture of generosity. Appointed Minister of the Digital Economy thanks to the ministerial reshuffle of April 11, 2017, the now ex CEO of PMU, tells us a source close to him, would also have engaged with Malian artists with good relations with the presidential family.

“I am surprised by the content of your questions and would especially like to know how you received my email? This is false information because I judge my management transparent and clear. I appreciate your approach to going to the truth but warn you against any publication of erroneous information on the PMU because I will fully play my role as gendarme of the press sector”, threatens the current Minister of the Economy Digital and Communication.

For two years, PMU has chosen to get closer and closer to its bettors through the multiplication of its gaming centers.
If certain opinions are against PMU Mali for contributing to the impoverishment of an unemployed population (Mali has 21.5% unemployed according to figures from the Malian government), Harouna Modibo praises the merits of a policy that has allowed to straighten a society on the brink. “How can you stay without creating jobs and allow gamblers to benefit from the diversity of games? How many young unemployed people have found joy with these play centers? Go ahead and ask those who play in these rooms … “, slips the former CEO of PMU Mali to justify the multiplication of gaming centers across Mali.

Long staying on horse racing, the company has added more strings to its bow through the introduction of new games. “It is a question of bringing new resources to the PMU and replenishing the treasury boxes”, explains Harouna Modibo Touré.

Mirroring the easy gain, the company quickly turned into an illustration merchant taking the heart of a fringe of bettors responding to all ages.
Inactive layers spend all their time there. Thinking about victories that never happen, these punters who have become supporters of the slightest effort, see everything easy.

The phenomenon is perceived by the sociologist Aly Ousmane Diarra as an aggravating factor in the “laziness” of a young unemployed and attracted by the lure of easy gain.

Of the 100 playing points planned for around two million bettors (mainly young people), more than fifty are operational.
In the shade of the giant walls of the Kati Military Camp (town 15 km from Bamako), the men in uniform make their cup of tea, dithering about the different kinds of combinations: Teliman, Bebe, Tibali and others. Sitting in the middle of a “grin” of bettors, Ismaël Diawara recognizes that transparency is not absolute: “The dice are often loaded before the game,” he said.

Badjènè Camara is in the circle of women who spend most of their time in front of the PMU Mali headquarters located in the big market of Bamako. She does not hide her bitterness: “The more you know the traps of the game, the less you win.”