by Veronica Commey
Perceptions about lottery in general, how it works and whether an individual should participate in it is quite chequered in Ghana than most other places in the world.
There are those who identify it as inconsistent with their religious convictions, others do not believe in its integrity and the guarantee of returns as they may have suffered losses from fraudulent dealers or heard stories of such nature.
And yet for many others, it provides an exciting avenue of “trying your luck” with the real prospects of making one rich.
The lottery industry, with its very viable potential of generating massive revenues, has contributed immensely to the economies of states that have embraced it fully, and designed the necessary systems to ensure its returns are maximised.
Substantial revenues are mobilised for investment in many aspects of the national life such as Education, Defense, Development Planning, Infrastructure, Technology, and Community Building.
The Lottery Corporation in the State of Georgia for instance, uses a stipulated percentage of its profits to make investments and launch initiatives in the educational sector.
Similar deeds are practiced in other places such as California, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Prestigious centres of learning such as Harvard and other Ivy League Schools have also been supported from contributions made by lottery in the United States.
Where the system is well practiced and care taken, through appropriate policy formulation and strict implementation, to seal all loopholes of corruption, the industry is able to grow tremendously yielding social and economic benefits that directly impact and enrich the lives of the people.
Thousands of jobs are created, vulnerable communities and people are supported through well designed community building projects, funds are invested into research that protects the environment, cost of healthcare is subsidised for the people, amongst several other life boosting initiatives that go a very long way to raise standard of living.
These feats have been achieved fundamentally due to the open manner in which the citizens of these countries have been able to accept and appreciate legal lottery for what it really is: a game of chance.
Ghana has not been able to replicate and maximise the benefits of lottery as much as other States have done, and this is mostly due to the unfortunate misconceptions that are still attached to the business.
Without necessarily invalidating the personal beliefs of many a people against some forms of gambling, anyone who takes an objective look at lottery in Ghana will safely conclude that lottery as run by the National Lottery Authority (NLA), the only legitimate and legally mandated Institution to run lottery in Ghana, remains trustworthy, entertaining and exciting, and nothing more than Games of Chance that creates employment, supports our society and contributes significantly to the government kitty.
There is a lot of confusion in the minds of people about lottery and other forms of gambling and gaming and this largely accounts for the opposing disposition that some demonstrate.
Lotteries are pretty unique and different from other gaming products. Lottery offers the opportunity for players to risk a small amount of money against very long odds to win a large prize, with the net proceeds going to the public.
It also remains a virtual monopoly of the State, thus the NLA is the institution legally tasked through laws, to undertake lottery. Therefore the intention to run lottery in Ghana itself was conceived for the good of the public and the State.
With external sources of revenue drying out as a result of the recent global economic downturn, most African Governments are turning to internal sources for revenue generation in order to finance their ever rising budget deficits.
Lottery is one of the important avenues available for internal revenue mobilization, which if well managed and largely patronised by Ghanaians, can help the Government close the gaps in revenue targets.
In this regard, the Government set up the NLA in 2006 to generate revenue for development as well as support the underprivileged in the society. Since its inception it has done enormously well to meet the challenge of its mandate.
The NLA apart from its traditional six separate branded products of the Fixed Odds namely: Monday Special, Lucky Tuesday, Midweek, Fortune Thursday, Friday Bonanza and National Weekly introduced SMS Lottery and the Caritas Lottery to fuel its efforts towards the development of the nation.
The Caritas Lottery Platform however was specially introduced to help in the realisation of its social mandate. It is in fulfillment of the provisions set in the National Lotto Act 722 to conduct lotteries with the aim of offering support to the less privileged in the society.
The platform is available for both the NLA and other well meaning organisations and Ghanaians who may wish to conduct a game of chance to help the needy in the society.
The NLA gives businesses and corporate bodies the opportunity to collaborate on the Caritas Lottery platform to promote their product brands and reward their customers whilst helping build a better society.
Since its introduction most organisations especially financial Institutions have taken advantage of the opportunity to partner with the NLA to enhance their product sales and also give back to their cherished and loyal customers a token of appreciation for their support.
Patronage of this platform has been very impressive so far and the revenue generated by NLA from it has aided the reinvigorating of its efforts towards the support of the less privileged in the society.
The NLA has undertaken several social projects with the financial gains from the Caritas Lottery. Most of the interventions were in Education, Health, Culture/Heritage and Sports.
Some of the specific projects sponsored from Caritas Lottery activities are;
• Donation of Blood Bank Refrigeration equipment to 6 District Hospitals,
• Financial support for all major National Festivals,
• Procurement of Power Drilling Machines for the Accident Centre of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital
• Financial support for a teenager in dire need of kidney transplant
• Sponsorship package for Miss Ghana pageant as the official Corporate Social Responsibility Partner to embark on projects to be undertaken in Gambaga Witch Camp and Buruli Ulcer patients
• Building of a six Classroom Block in the Central Region
• Donation of Hospital necessities to the James Town Maternity Clinic
• Donation to the Korle Bu Children’s Cancer Unit
• Financial Support to the Ghana Olympic Committee
• Donation to the Pantang Psychiatric Hospital
• Donation of an Intra Aortic Balloon Pump to the National Cardio-Thoracic Centre, Korle Bu
• And several other life enhancing projects.
The NLA is fully committed to contributing its quota to the sustenance and development of Ghana and will not renege on its efforts to introduce more creative/ innovative ways to do so.
Going forward however, the NLA anticipates the prominent expansion of the Caritas Lottery Platform as it foresees more organisations coming on board considering the benefits both financial and social it brings to all parties that take advantage of it.
The NLA therefore will be embarking on more social projects to put smiles on the faces of the less privileged and children in the society. GNA