Global lottery

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Global Lottery or “Humanitarian Lottery”

Presented in the Landau report’s menu of options, the idea of a global lottery or a “humanitarian lottery” has been aired regularly in a number of UN forums since 1972.

Recently, it has been advocated by the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), together with Martti Ahtisaari, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former UN Under-Secretary General.

The Leading Group has debated this idea since it was set up in 2006. A global lottery for development based on a voluntary decision would be a secure game that would generate stable, additional, predictable resources for financing global public goods.

There are several different models for a lottery:

- The first model would be to go through existing operators. In other words, the global lottery would be an amalgamation of national lotteries. There are at least two trans-national lotteries in Europe managed by national companies (Viking Lotto in the Nordic countries and EuroMillions in nine western European countries). In these games, the same agencies as the national lotteries are used.

- The second possibility would be to set up an international company in charge of organising the lottery, for example under the supervision of the World Lottery Association (WLA).

- A third option would be to allocate some of the proceeds from an existing game to development.

There are proposals to run additional lotteries associated with specific causes (e.g. AIDS, climate change or education), so that the cause reflects individual preferences.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has developed the idea of a “humanitarian lottery” in which scratch tickets would be sold for €1, to win prizes ranging from €20 to €100, or a trip to visit a development project in the field. According to WFP’s calculations, the game would generate annual revenues of €400 million if it were run globally.

According to a survey by Ipsos in June 2005, some 220 million people play games of chance in nine European countries alone (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK). Seventy percent of players said they would be willing to participate in a “humanitarian lottery”, even if, as the Landau report notes, precedents of lotteries directly associated with general-interest causes have not been successful.

A pdf presentation of the global lottery by Nobel Peace Prize winner Martti Ahtisaari on the website of the Crisis Management Initiative:

6 January 2010

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