Sunday, February 03, 2008

Bye Bye Billions - lottery in the hole. 

So a Black Hole beckons for the National Lottery to the tune of a thousand million pounds shortfall in funds promised to good causes.

One thing about the Lottery is that it is the partial nationalisation of charity. It channels ‘giving’ through a kind of voluntary taxation and hands out benefits to ‘good causes’ not according to the choices and preferences of the taxed but according to the bureaucratic decisions of a gallimaufry of the Great and the Good. It also makes rather too visible a pot of money that tempts a wider government to direct it for possible beneficial ends.

Now the funding of the 2012 Olympics depends rather heavily on the use of Lotteries money which puts heavy strains on the funds available for other causes.

The voluntary tax, a regular purchase of a lottery ticket in the expectation of a win, requires the care and maintenance of a high degree of statistical ignorance amongst the public on the actual odds of getting anything back. The analysis shows in fact that a there is a steady pool of punters who budget for lottery tickets and this puts an effective cap on lottery income. An independent study suggests that there is little likelihood of Camelot boosting sales to make good this shortfall.

Maybe people are starting to wise up about this as the general economic situation tightens?

Perhaps we should look again at the consequences of Charities Nationalisation.

Professor Ian Walker (an expert on lotteries design –see his Dummies Guide ) predicted this funding mess but incidentally disagrees with the suggestion that unpopularity of the causes supported impacts on the revenue raised.

On a parochial note it is perhaps a relief that our Party leadership is no longer related by marriage to the management of Camelot.

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