Lottery advertising across the world entice potential players with stories of riches waiting just for you but very few Lotteries do a good job when it comes to telling their players where the money goes. As always there are exceptions notably the United Kingdom's National Lottery and the Canadian Atlantic Lottery.
Atlantic Canadians have been playing the lottery for years — with little idea as to where their money was going. Lack of accessible information left citizens in the dark about the Atlantic Lottery. In partnership with Revolve, we helped create a hub for Atlantic Canadians to ask The Atlantic Lottery Corporation anything they want. A destination for answers, told in a truthful voice…from a government institution. Yes, it can be done.
The United Kingdom's National Lottery has created a digital platform to educated and inform the British public where the money goes. The National Lottery Good Causes site pulls all 14 National Lottery distributors together under one banner so that the general public have a one stop shop to get all the news they need on how Lottery money is spent across the UK.
Users can search through all Lottery funded projects which can be found according to different types of funding such as the arts, education, health, sports and the environment as well as geographical location.
The site is also the location to enter, view winners and cast votes for the Lottery Awards. Annual awards given to the best lottery funded projects in the UK in a live televised event on the BBC.
National Lottery Players were one of the biggest funders of London 2012. Helping to build the Olympic Park, supporting British athletes, allowing young people to be part of the Cultural Olympiad and funding community sports clubs! No one has contributed more!
But the UK National Lottery's transparent approach does not stop there, through the Big Lottery Fund they created an additional vehicle to ensure that the money ends up in the right place. BIG is responsible for distributing £600 million each year (40 per cent) of all the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery. This totals around £6 billion since 2004. At their website applications can be made for funding, funding case studies can be accessed, information is available on how to apply and much more.
In South Africa there is the opposite to the UK's approach to "Good Causes"
Many South African charities rely – to varying degrees – on funds from the National Lotteries Board in order to carry out their work. But they pay a high price for this reliance, since the administration of lottery funds is often reported to be downright chaotic. A 2011 report on lottery funding put together by the Funding Practice Alliance confirms the picture of endemic maladministration within the National Lotteries Board (NLB) and the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF). “It is clear that, while considerable thought went into the gaming side of the National Lottery, very little consideration went into making sure that its grant-making would work well,” the report suggests. It cites evidence of “ineffective and sometimes confusing lines of communication” within the relevant bodies, leading to delays of sometimes up to 12 months to disburse funds.
Even after that, the report notes, “those organisations which have been awarded grants have had to wait a further six to 12 months for the money to be disbursed”. It describes the impact of these delays as “catastrophic”, leading to staff retrenchments or closures in some instances. As a result of these administrative inefficiencies, less than 50% of the available lottery funds had actually been handed out in each of the three years leading up to the report’s publication.
In addition to the administrative problems – attributed to a lack of trained staff, high staff turnover and an inefficient application processing system – there have also been a number of controversies over certain large funding awards made over the past few years. In 2011, for example, a R64.1 million Lotto grant was awarded to a company called Makhaya, which stages South African exhibitions in Serbia and other Eastern European cities. Aside from the fact that South African lottery money was going to pay salaries in Belgrade, and the organisation was running partly as a commercial enterprise, it emerged that Makhaya was also employing the daughter of the chairman of the National Lotteries Board, Professor Alfred Nevhutanda.
The National Lotteries Board has also come under fire for funding a number of politically affiliated events in recent years. Most notoriously,R40 million was awarded to the National Youth Development Agency in 2010 for its World Festival of Youth and Students, of which R60 000 went on confetti and R100 000 on balloons.
In the United States Lottery operators do not seems to make a big deal about where the money goes but spending some time on different operator websites reveal that most of the money goes to education. The Michigan Lottery states that lottery revenues comprise approximately 6.5 percent of the School Aid Fund, with the remaining coming from the state's sales and use tax, earmarked income tax and state education property tax, as well as cigarette, liquor and other taxes.
The California Lottery use the same approach to where the money goes as the Michigan Lottery but they do share success stories with their market, unlike the big production and emotive executions of the UK National Lottery these are more "functional" in their approach.
The Florida Lottery says their mission is to maximize revenues for the enhancement of public education in Florida. With this focus, the Florida Lottery has not only kept its promise as a committed partner in education, but has also operated as a distinguished and outstanding business enterprise.
In fiscal year 2011-2012, the Florida Lottery transferred more than $1.31 billion to the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund. For the eleventh time in the Florida Lottery's 25-year history the agency will surpass the billion-dollar mark in a single year. The Lottery's total contribution since start-up is more than $25 billion. Although this contribution is only a small part of the state's overall education budget, the impact of the Florida Lottery on public education flows from community to community.
The big question remains should Lotteries rather spend their marketing dollars on communicating where the money goes or is tempting potential players with lavish dreams a better approach?