Queensland said this week it will not back the federal government’s plans for a UK-style sports lottery that would be used to boost funding for the nation’s underperforming Olympians.
Federal Sports Minister Greg Hunt believes a UK-style national lottery would raise $50 million per year for sports-funding and spearhead an Olympic revival for Team Australia. He has hopes it could be up-and-running in 2018, two years before Tokyo 2020.
Hunt recently told states that their budgets would not suffer as a result of the new lottery and that any losses to existing state-lottery revenues incurred by the new competition would be compensated.
Plan Branded ‘Short-sighted’
But Mick de Brenni, sports minister for in Australia’s most successful sporting state, declared the Palaszczuk government’s opposition to the idea at a meeting of sports ministers last week, branding the use of increased gambling to fund sports “short-sighted.”
“I think all states would agree that sport needs a significant injection of funding from the commonwealth across all levels,’’ Mr de Brenni said. “Lotto is already a crowded field in Australia and there are real doubts about whether this idea would even be successful.
“Even more important, the Turnbull government’s proposal would take more money off working people and their families. It would involve creating hundreds of millions of dollars in extra gambling losses in the community.’’
It certainly worked for the UK, although the country’s Olympic prowess did not occur overnight. It introduced its national lottery in 1994, two years before it suffered its worst Games ever, in Atlanta. But 20 years later, in Rio, it finished second in the medal table for its best-ever haul. Meanwhile, Team Australia suffered its worst performance in 24 years in Rio.
At last week’s meeting, a spokesman for Hunt asked how de Brenni’s position sat with Queensland’s decision to introduce 2,500 new pokie machines and grant limitless gaming tables for the Queen’s Wharf casino development in Brisbane.
“Queenslanders would be surprised to hear the Palaszczuk government is backing more pokie machines but not measures to improve sport funding as Great Britain and New Zealand have already done,’’ said the spokesman. “It is particularly surprising given that Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt previously expressed his strong interest in the concept to the minister some months ago.’’
The Queensland government received $1.13 billion from taxes on gambling last year, including $242 million from lotteries.