Should a National Lottery be introduced in the Cayman Islands?
The perennial question which has been a feature of local discourse for years, especially in the political arena, is taking on added urgency this time around.
It’s time overdue for this long-running conversation to be resolved and we welcome the efforts of the Hon. Minister for Tourism and Transport, Kenneth Bryan, to have a public consultation on this matter.
A State lottery is a better bet by far than the unauthorised undercover gambling schemes that are a scourge to society.
Unlike state lotteries, their very business model is based on maximising the takings and profits for those behind the schemes - and behind the scenes.
There’s no openness, no accountability for the operators, and no safety net nor any recourse for the individuals and their families oftentimes forced into destitution by the sheer addiction of this uncontrolled sector.
The odds are woefully stacked against the players where one is ‘allowed’ to win at the expense of other punters. But the real winners reap their ill-gotten gains in the shadows, tax-free with no responsibility and no accountability...except for counting up their profits at the cost of society.
It’s criminal, leads to criminal activity, destroys lives, and is a menace to society - but immensely profitable to those running it.
However, it’s proven that banning any addictive pursuit without providing a beneficial alternative is itself a recipe for disaster.
People will always gamble. For some, the attraction and promise of a small ‘investment’ for a quick win are irresistible. And then it unhealthily spirals out of control with disastrous consequences.
But it doesn‘t have to be that way.
THE UK NATIONAL LOTTERY - A WINNING COMBINATION
There is a proven and beneficial way of disrupting the business model of illegal gambling.
A shining example is the UK’s National Lottery - a model which we suggest that Cayman emulates.
The modern UK National Lottery was launched in 1994 and from its history outlined on its website, it has been an impressive success.
“Making sure as much money as possible goes towards life-changing projects is incredibly important to us. In fact, it’s what we’re here for. For every ticket sold, a hefty slice of the money received goes to a huge variety of projects, both big and small – from repairing Scout huts to making Olympic and Paralympic champions. So, every time you play, the UK wins.”
That’s a winning proposition. It works in the UK and there’s no reason why it can’t and shouldn’t work in Cayman.
There’s just one proviso: It must be properly run.
The UK National Lottery is run by the country’s government-appointed Gambling Commission whose legal responsibilities are; ensuring that the interests of all players are protected, ensuring the Lottery is run with due propriety, and that returns to good causes are maximised.
Decisions on how and where funding is invested are made by 12 specialist organisations. These are chosen by Parliament for their knowledge and expertise to help ensure the money goes exactly where it’s needed.
Here are some other ‘winning’ results of the UK National It retains around just 1% of revenue in profit, while around 95% of total revenue goes back to winners and society. More so, we run one of the most cost-efficient major lotteries in Europe, with around 4% of total revenue spent on operating costs.
So far, over £47 million (KYD/CI 46.8 million) in individual prizes and funding for a range of worthwhile causes. The government also earns a ‘lottery duty’ from ticket sales.
In the year ending 31 March 2022, the National Lottery reports total ticket sales of £8,090.7 million (KYD/CI 7.9 million) that funds were shared as follows: Health, education, environment and charitable causes – 40%, Sport – 20%, Arts – 20%, and Heritage – 20%.
Individual winners have won up to £195 million (KYD/CI 194.3 million) - the highest single win to date - in a variety of games.
Key to all of this is the commitment of the UK National Lottery: “To keep players safe online, we use an in-house behavioural analytics model. This identifies at-risk players, enabling us to support them through targeted interventions.”
It’s a winning formula and if it can be done there, it can be done here. That’s why we endorse Min. Bryan’s public consultation into a Cayman National Lottery.
It’s more than just a numbers game. In the end, we all win.