Lawmakers from the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee yesterday asked the Sports Affairs Council (SAC) to quickly draw up a law specifically governing sports lotteries.
Taipei Fubon Bank is scheduled to begin the sports lotteries tomorrow. Currently, the government uses the Statute Governing Public Welfare Lotteries (公益彩券發行條例) as the legal basis for sports lotteries.
The statute dictates that profits from public welfare lotteries are to be used to fund welfare programs only, such as the National Pension Fund and the National Health Insurance system.
The council originally planned to amend the statute to allow 80 percent of the profits earned from sports lotteries to be used to fund sports. However, the proposed amendment was vetoed by the legislature’s Finance Committee on Monday.
On the same day, the Finance Committee also passed a resolution to postpone the sport lotteries because of an unresolved controversy over the appropriation of the earnings.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Nancy Chao (趙麗雲), a former SAC minister, said the sports lotteries were planned to help raise funds for the SAC, whose annual budget accounts for less than 0.4 percent of the government’s entire budget.
Chao said that 62 percent of the SAC budget is used to improve sports infrastructure, leaving only a small portion to pay for training athletes.
Chao also said that the sports lotteries were created to put an end to the betting scandals surrounding the nation’s professional baseball league.
However, Taipei Fubon Bank announced earlier that the nation’s professional baseball league would not be open for betting during the initial stage of the lotteries. Rather, the lotteries would mainly cover overseas baseball, basketball and soccer games, such as US Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and soccer leagues in England, Japan and other countries.
The nation’s Olympic baseball contests would be listed as a betting item in August, it said.
Chao said that although the sports lotteries were supposed to help the nation’s sports industry, not a single dollar would go to sports because of a lack of legislation.
Another KMT legislator, Huang Chih-hsiung (黃志雄), also said it was legitimate that profits from sports lotteries should be used to support the sports industry.
But he warned that a special law for sports lotteries might change terms of the agreement stated in the contract with Fubon.
“The government needs to handle the issue with care,” he said.
Huang also said Taiwan’s baseball league should be included as a betting item as soon as possible, or sports fans would simply pay attention to overseas sports games and disregard domestic sports.
A hundred sports lottery outlets are scheduled to open tomorrow.
While fans will only be allowed to buy lottery tickets from outlets during the initial stage, the bank plans to eventually allow buyers to purchase them online.