Sun, Mar 03, 2002 - Page 2 News List

DPP lawmakers warn of lottery's negative effects

STAFF WRITER WITH CNA

Peng Tien-hao, left, and Chiu Tai-san, founders of an anti-lottery group, hold a replica of a ticket with a disclaimer warning of the poor odds of winning.

PHOTO: LIAO RAY-SHANG, TAIPEI TIMES

Two ruling DPP lawmakers said yesterday they will ask the Ministry of Finance to assess the social and fiscal impact of the national lottery within 15 days.

Saying the lottery has "siphoned off funds" that might otherwise be used in investment or consumption, legislators Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) and Chen Chin-teh (陳金德) called on the government to direct more money to prevent crime prompted by the lottery.

In a news conference at the legislature, Chiu compared the issuance of lottery tickets to gambling, which he added is "without economic value" and "a waste of the time and resources of the people and the nation."

Citing a study by John Kindt at the University of Illinois, Chiu said that for every job opportunity created by a lottery, two opportunities are lost in other industries.

According to the same study, every dollar generated in a lottery will entail a three-dollar increase in government expenditure for crime-prevention.

Following a suggestion put forward by an anti-lottery coalition (反彩券聯盟) consisting of the Peng Wanru Foundation (彭婉如基金會), Women Online (女人連線) and other groups, Chen said TaipeiBank, which operates the lottery, should put a warning on lottery tickets that the chance of hitting the jackpot is about one in 5.24 million -- which means you are two-thirds more likely to be struck by lightning than you are of winning big.

At the press conference, the anti-lottery coalition also said that there is a risk that it will become a poor man's tax paid by people less well off, and that it will have a negative impact on society.

The two lawmakers said they have begun to notice the negative impact of the lottery in the month since its launch, most noticeably that the huge funds spent by the public have "dampened the nation's normal economic activities."

In an effort to "calm public fascination over the lottery," Chiu and Chen said the number of draws should be cut to just one per week, held on the weekend rather than on a week day.

Minister of Finance Lee Yung-san (李庸三) told the legislature the previous day that a comprehensive review of the lottery will not be undertaken for another six months.

In related news yesterday, Minister of Education Huang Jong-tsun (黃榮村) said pitching for the lottery in class is "conduct unbecoming a teacher."

Huang said existing rules make it clear that minors are not permitted to buy lottery tickets, that campuses are off-limits to lottery vendors and that teachers are prohibited from "telling students how to choose the winning numbers."

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