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The National Lottery and the non-profit sector

2.1.2 Accountable: to whom?
 
The Board believes that its job is to ensure that the commercial aspects of the Lottery are conducted within the parameters of the legislation and that the Operator is held to public account. As Sershan Naidoo, the Player Services Media Liaison Manager points out, no one buys a ticket because a portion of this money goes to “good causes.”48 People buy tickets because they hope to win prizes and it is the Lotteries Board’s job to ensure that the interests of such “players” are protected. This, it must be said, is in keeping with the definition of a “participant” in the Lotteries Act, i.e., “a person … in possession of a valid ticket in the lottery”.49 Players must be protected, and this is a statutory responsibility of the Board.

Whilst it is correct to highlight this responsibility to ticket holders, this seems an unduly restrictive manner in which to define the accountability of the Board. The intention in establishing the National Lottery was more than simply to regulate the booming underground gaming industry. Instead, the Lottery was understood as a means to raise and direct money to good causes that might not otherwise receive sufficient support from the state or the private sector. Accordingly, as noted in 1.3 above, it is instructive that the Lotteries Act defines one of the tasks of the Board as ensuring that “the net proceeds of the National Lottery are as large as possible.”50 Clearly, this suggests that the Board’s accountability goes beyond a simple legal accountability to ticket holders, as the purpose of maximising net proceeds is to ensure that greater amounts of money are available to good causes via the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF). Maximising this is as important as ensuring that the Lottery is conducted in a way that is fair to all “participants”.

Other responsibilities identified by the Act reinforce this broader conception of accountability. These include the establishment and regulation of the NLDTF, as well as widely construed advisory functions. In particular, the Board is directed to advise the Minister on matters such as the percentage of money (over and above the statutory minimum) allocated to each distribution category,51 the “efficiency” of legislation “pertaining to lotteries and ancillary matters”,52 and the establishment and implementation of “a social responsibility programme in respect of lotteries”.53

If it is true that the Board’s responsibilities implies that it is accountable to both players and the broader public, then this widens the parameters within which lobby groups can pressurise the Minister and the Lotteries Board. Higher percentages may be awarded to some categories, as long as these remain above the statutory minimum. (In practice, this is already occurring).

On the positive side, the Board acknowledges a need to improve its communication strategies, and has promised [20 May, 2002] to place posters at all 8,000 Lotto stations listing the 1,240 recipients of Lottery funding. The poster is to be sponsored (R35,000) by ABSA bank, and will not be paid for out of money demarcated for good cause allocation. In addition, the Board has promised to start a web site providing up-to-date information on the allocation process.

Although there is, as yet, not evidence of either promise having been kept, such moves are to be welcomed, and are, hopefully, suggestive of an attitudinal shift of attitude within the Board.

Footnotes:
  1. Interview with Sershan Naidoo, 20/05/2002.
  2. National Lotteries Act 57 of 1997, s.1(xvii).
  3. National Lotteries Act 57 of 1997, s.1(10)(b)(iii).
  4. National Lotteries Act 57 of 1997, s.1(10)(e)
  5. National Lotteries Act 57 of 1997, s.1(10)(f)
  6. National Lotteries Act 57 of 1997, s.1(10)(g)
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