Lotteries could help boost charities, sport and education, BGC chief executive says
Gambling watchdogs are in talks with the Government about whether to allow increased use of lotteries.
Jean Major, the chief executive of the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission, said the organisation had been approached by several charities and groups who wanted to see a change in the law.
Mr Major added that at present only a “very small” number of lotteries were held on the island and the discussions with the Government centred on whether to alter the 1944 Lotteries Act to loosen restrictions.
He said allowing charities and other philanthropic organisations to run their own lotteries could benefit areas such as sport.
Mr Major added: “There would be significant advantages from the public policy perspective for charitable and beneficial organisations.
“This could benefit areas like education, athletics and the arts.”
Mr Major emphasised: “This is 100 per cent in the hands of the Government — the commission does not have a mandate.
“A change in the law would permit lotteries by certain designated groups and sectors.”
Mr Major said the watchdog had not discussed a national lottery with the Government.
He explained: “We have not been asked to look into that.”
Ernest Peets, the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport, said in November that the Government was considering the idea of a national lottery.
He said the cash raised could be used to boost the Government’s national sports strategy.
The strategy, designed to help others to emulate Flora’s Duffy’s historic Olympic gold success through greater investment in elite young athletes, was unveiled by the Government as part of the Throne Speech delivered by Rena Lalgie, the Governor, on behalf of the Progressive Labour Party administration last year.
Mr Peets said one of the possible avenues being explored to help to create funding was the introduction of a national lottery scheme.
National lotteries, such as the one in the UK, has paid dividends for grassroots endeavours, with more than £5.7 billion invested into community sport since it was launched in 1994.
Lottery cash in Britain has been used to build new sports centres, maintain playing fields and increased opportunities for millions of people.
That level of investment through a lottery is not feasible in Bermuda, but Mr Peets revealed that the option was being explored to improve funding to sports bodies.
Mr Peets said: “There are conversations going on, which I am aware of, and I’ve had conversations with the sporting national governing bodies about that.
“Right now that is still a work in progress, but I am more than willing to have that conversation moving forward.”