1on1: European Lotteries on grassroots recognition
1on1: European Lotteries on grassroots recognition
An event held by the European Parliament earlier this week on the future for grassroots sport in Europe has called upon further recognition for the work being done by lotteries in terms of funding. In response to the report from the European Parliament’s rapporteur on an integrated approach to spot policy, European Lotteries president Hansjörg Höltkemeier expressed satisfaction in the continued commitment to sport on the part of the European Parliament, adding that illegal betting continued to represent a threat to grassroots sport.
Following up on the event, TotallyGaming.com spoke to Jutta Buyse, deputy secretary-general and Vagelis Alexandrakis, sport Executive Secretary at the European Lotteries to discuss what more can be done on the part of lotteries to with regard to their work with grassroots sport and talk about new European initiatives such as the European Week of Sport and the new EL Sport Award which will be handed out at the next European Lotteries bi-annual Congress in June in Krakow, Poland.
TotallyGaming: How do you think the lotteries can gain further recognition for the work done with regards to grassroots funding?
Jutta Buyse and Vagelis Alexandrakis: We do think that the funding of Lotteries to grassroots sport in Europe is all the more recognised. The significant role of Lotteries in terms of the financing of grassroots sport has been referred to in many recent policy documents, including the Recommendations of the High Level Grassroots Sport, the deliverables of the EU Expert Group Economic Dimension of Sport, and many other policy documents.
A recent study (‘The impact of lotteries as a funding source for European sport’ released last December) has even shown that this funding has a further impact on employment, with the creation of more than 40,000 direct and indirect jobs every year. What needs to be further highlighted, though, is that this financing should not be taken for granted. The sustainable financing of grassroots sports by Lotteries is increasingly jeopardised by the phenomenon of illegal betting and, as also recommended by the Recommendations of the High Level Group Grassroots Sport, states need to take concrete measures against illegal betting, as apart from posing public order risks, it also undermines the sustainable financing of grassroots sport.
TG: There was quite a lot about this in the UK with regard to recent successes at the Olympics being the direct result of National Lottery funding, so does ore work have to be done to hammer home the point?
JB/VA: Indeed, in the UK the recent success of the Olympics has been a direct result of the sustainable lottery funding to the Olympic movement. And this is actually the case in many countries. Both the Olympic and Paralympic movement receive massive funds from Lotteries, which allow many athletes to materialise their Olympic dreams. And as the Paralympics started this week, it is also of significance to highlight that in many countries, the Paralympic movement also receives significant sustainable lottery support.
Although it is well-known that Lotteries do support sport and mainly grassroots sport, probably it is not yet so widely known to the general public that the lottery funding is of pivotal importance for the viability of also many NOCs (National Olympic Committees) and the Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
TG: What impact do you think the European Week of Sport will have? How extensive is the schedule of events?
JB/VA: The European Week of Sport is a great initiative of the European Commission which started last year. The #BeActive message can be a great source of inspiration for Europeans to practice more sport and engage in an active lifestyle. As the primary supporters of grassroots sport in Europe, of course, EL and its members enthusiastically supported this initiative and will this year again organise activities and events all over Europe and shall also use all their communication platforms to spread out a very strong message for increased physical activity.
TG: Do you think lotteries have a particular place with regard to sport and the issue of illegal gambling?
JB/VA: Lotteries are definitely the true and sustainable supporters, allies and friends of sport – and mainly grassroots sport - in Europe. As such, lotteries have taken lots of actions to safeguard the credibility of sports, fighting against negative phenomena, like match-fixing. As mentioned above, illegal betting from the one hand contributes to the problem of match-fixing, and also undermines the sustainability of sports funding. Therefore, it has to be reiterated that states do need to take concrete measures against this phenomenon. This is actually also a requirement by the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sport Competitions.
Totally Gaming says: The funding of sport at both a grassroots and an elite level is a hot topic right now, and not just because this is an Olympics year. Lotteries globally are engaged fully with the funding of sport and good causes and the figures speak for themselves. Last December’s report showed that in 2012 total funding for sport provided by Europe’s lotteries topped €2.5bn, a phenomenal sum and one that is likely to have increased in the years since then. The report pointedly said this was almost equivalent to the GDP of Malta, which perhaps not coincidentally happens to be the home of many online gambling companies.