Tue, Feb 25, 2003 - Page 11 News List

Lottery `worthy of study'

RECOGNITION?The World Lottery Association, which is affiliated with the UN, is going to include local data, even though Taiwan may not attend its conferences


The World Lottery Association (WLA), a UN-affiliated body, will carry an article documenting Taiwan's young computer lottery history and its special lottery culture in its publication this year, a TaipeiBank (台北銀行) executive said yesterday.

Richard Yang (楊瑞東), a bank vice president, said as this country is not a UN member, it has been denied entry to the WLA.

However, as the country's computer-lottery ticket sales are now the world's 10th largest since the lottery began 13 months ago, Yang said this amazing record has attracted WLA interest.

"WLA authorities have decided to include Taiwan's 2002 lottery trading data and relevant developments in their official publication this year," he said.

The WLA convenes two meetings a year to allow its members to exchange views and experiences in lottery gaming management, marketing and advertisement, Yang said.

"We cannot attend those conferences, but our unique experience in lottery management is worthy of study," Yang said.

Yang said in his view the nation's lottery history has three special features. First, Taiwan is only the second country in the world, after Spain, to allow the underprivileged to sell lottery tickets.

Yang said Spain only allows blind people to sell traditional lottery tickets, while this country allows underprivileged people to sell even computerized tickets.

"At the beginning, many people wonder whether Taiwan's bold practice could succeed as the underprivileged are usually less educated and have little business experience. Despite these concerns, we have made it. Our successful experience has prompted China and South Korea to send people to Taiwan to study our arrangement," Yang said.

Second, he said, there have been no problem with vendors and repayments of deposits that are required to sell lottery tickets.

"TaipeiBank requires each sales agent to deposit NT$100,000 as a down payment. At first, some British and American advisers wondered whether underprivileged sales agents could afford to make such a large down payment. In fact, we allow them to deposit NT$20,000 initially and pay the remainder in installments. This formula has gone smoothly so far. No vendor has had any problems paying off their debt." Yang explained.

Third, Yang said, ticket sales are handled by governments in most countries. TaipeiBank and Japan's Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank are among the few commercial banks that are authorized to handle lottery ticket sales, he said.

Learning from Taiwan's experience, South Korea began to authorize its National Bank to issue computerized lottery tickets this year, Yang said.

The National Bank collects a 9.5 percent service charge and its computer system operator collects an additional 4.5 percent. In comparison, TaipeiBank only levies a 4.3 percent service charge, according Yang.

"We don't rely on service charges to make money. We instead use the huge cash income from lottery ticket sales to buoy our daily business operations. This is one of the bonanzas to commission banks to operate lotteries," he said.

Since the inauguration of the computerized public-interest lottery, there have been hundreds of jackpot winners. But none of them have ever voluntarily come forward to share their joy with the public.

"With only a few exceptions, most countries withhold identities of jackpot winners for various reasons, including protecting winners from criminal rings, from relatives who want to borrow money or charity groups seeking donations," Yang said. He said lottery issuers have never relied on publicizing the identities of winners to build up their credibility.

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