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Swan calls for a lottery to fund charities, sport and the arts

Opposition MP Charlie Swan is proposing a state lottery to fund charities and other community groups.

The Shadow Transport Minister said in the House of Assembly this week that such a scheme could generate funding for youth, sports and arts organisations, as well as charities which help those in need.

Elaborating on the idea yesterday, he told

The Royal Gazette: “Government might want to consider a local lottery to fund some of the programmes and I'm speaking specifically with youth and sports: to fund sports, to fund teams, sporting athletes, that type of thing, funding for our National Stadium, even the arts.

“It could even be used to fund things like grants to some of our serving or helping organisations, the LCCA (Lady Cubitt Compassionate Association) or that kind of thing.

“Government do give those things money, the Salvation Army and other local helping organisations.”

He said some organisations were facing a cut in their funding in 2011-12, including the LCCA, which pays for overseas medical treatment and has had its annual grant halved from $2 million to $1 million.

“A lottery generates some excitement locally and can be beneficial for everybody if it's ploughed back in the right way,” said Mr Swan.

“There is always going to be those against it, for whatever reason, but I have a feeling that people will be receptive to it in this [economic] climate.”

He said the UBP had not formed a party line on a national lottery but he felt it was worth raising during Wednesday's Budget debate on the Department of Financial Assistance.

Mr Swan said the idea had worked well in other countries, including the UK, and was different to other forms of gambling, such as casinos.

“The type of gambling involving casinos means a physical presence,” he said. “Lotteries can be addictive as well [but] you can keep the price low and put limits on who can buy tickets, based on age.”

Last year's Green Paper on Gaming looked into the introduction of a lottery, but only in relation to whether it could stimulate increased tourism for the Island.

The Innovation Group, which conducted a $300,000 study into gambling, estimated that a lottery could generate more than $17 million a year in revenue but wouldn't help the tourism industry.

It concluded: “The motivation behind enabling lottery legislation is frequently politically motivated and centres on a government raising funds in an effort to improve the quality of life for its citizens.

“Popular programmes that receive lottery funds include aiding the elderly and disabled, subsidising education programmes, supporting cultural institutions and building infrastructure.”

Youth, Families, Sports and Community Development Minister Glenn Blakeney told this newspaper yesterday: “The Government has no plan to consider gaming in any form at this time.

“However, it doesn't negate such concepts being explored in the future, regarding the viability and benefits to be derived in the national interest.”

Pamela Barit Nolan, executive director of the Centre on Philanthropy, a support organisation for local nonprofits, volunteers, and corporate and individual donors, said: “The Centre on Philanthropy is neither for nor against the idea of a national lottery at this point, as we have not done the necessary research.

“Cutbacks in funding to the charitable sector are of concern to the centre, but whether a lottery is the solution is not clear to us.

“As a membership organisation with a broad constituency in the charitable and donor sectors, we would need to explore the whole idea further.”

l Useful websites: www.gov.bm, www.centreonphilanthropy.org, www.national-lottery.co.uk

Opposition MP Charlie Swan

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Published March 16, 2011 at 10:43 am (Updated March 16, 2011 at 10:43 am)

Swan calls for a lottery to fund charities, sport and the arts

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