The proposal to establish a UK-style Australian sports lottery that would plough cash into underfunded sports bodies in the hopes of spearheading an Olympic revival has been met with opposition.
Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association (ALNA) complained this week that the plan could cannibalize existing lotteries, depriving schools and hospitals of vital funding. The association wondered whether it might be a better idea to introduce a point of consumption tax on online gambling companies and fund the Olympic revival that way instead.
“Online wagering companies are benefiting considerably from sport in Australia and therefore should have a role in supporting it,” ALNA chief executive Adam Joy told The Australian this week.
“It seems like they’re running full steam ahead … without doing enough consultation,” he added. “It just doesn’t make sense to take it away to fund sports.”
ALNA dismissed the sports lottery as little more than a “very big thought bubble.”
Going For Gold
But many disagree, not least Athletics Australia boss Mark Arbib. He believes the UK-style national lottery is “absolutely essential.’’
“A national sports lottery should attract bipartisan support from the federal parliament and we need to move quickly to ensure we don’t slip further behind our international competitors,’’ Arbib said.
Australian Sports Commission chairman John Wylie says Australia has reached a “moment of truth” in regards to its sports funding and is standing on a “a burning deck” in terms of international performance.
“There is no better evidence of that than what has been happening at the Olympic Games,” he said.
Marathon not a Sprint
Sports Minister Greg Hunt is behind the plan, which could yield an extra $50 million per year for our underwhelming Olympians, and there are hopes it could be up-and-running in 2018, two years before Tokyo 2020.
But no one is expecting miracles; sporting prowess takes a long time to develop. The UK introduced its national lottery in 1994 and, two years later, in Atlanta, suffered its worst Olympics ever.
But they stuck with it and at Rio 2016 finished second in the medal table, for the country’s best ever performance. Contrast that with Team Australia’s Rio performance, which netted just eight golds for our worst games in 24 years.
In short, it’s a marathon not the men’s 100 metres.
It’s believed that Hunt has been talking to potential operators and broadcasters over the past few weeks recently to discuss the dynamics of the lottery, but it is still unclear exactly how it would run and how much money would go to sporting bodies.