Sport Lottery Funding

Sport Lottery Funding
Prepared by  Prepared by: Dr Ralph Richards, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport, Sport Australia
evaluated by  Evaluation by: Nadine Cohen, Chief Executive Officer, Netball Foundation (April 2016)
Reviewed by  Reviewed by network: Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN)
Last updated  Last updated: 9 January 2019
Please refer to the Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer page for
more information concerning this content.

Sport Lottery Funding
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National Lottery funding for sport (as one of several 'worthy causes') is an established practice in many countries.

Popular lottery systems used internationally for the purpose of sports funding may incorporate different formats: (1) a finite number of tickets to be sold prior to a prize draw; (2) a regular (usually weekly) game, with the prize draw irrespective of the number of tickets sold; (3) instant prizes identified at the point of ticket sale (e.g. scratch and win), (4) selection of multiple winning teams from a week’s sport fixtures, with a points-based scoring system determining the prize pool (e.g. ‘football pools’) and; (5) consumers selecting a set of numbers from a given matrix of numbers (or the purchase of a randomly selected set of numbers) to enter a random draw of numbers from the given matrix.

The rationale for directing proceeds (part/all) from a National Lottery to sport has generally focused on four main themes: (1) the desire to provide long-term financial security for national sporting associations; (2) the desire to assist Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games organisations with their fundraising; (3) the desire to assist some of the ‘lesser known’ sports with funding that is critical to their development; and (4) the desire to increase the capacity of grassroots sports to deliver a number of personal and social benefits (e.g. health outcomes, inclusion, community cohesion).

There is also opposition to National Lotteries; general concerns include: (1) jurisdiction oversight; (2) fund priorities; and (3) ethical concerns related to the promotion of gambling in sport and gambling more generally. 

Key Messages 


National lottery funding for sport is an established practice internationally, with dedicated proceeds in many countries going to support government investment in sport (i.e. events, infrastructure, programs, athletes).


A strong argument used when promoting National Lottery contributions to sport is the input from non-government dependant revenue streams.


The potential impact of lottery funding as a contributor to enhancing international competitiveness in sport is best illustrated by the more recent success of the United Kingdom (Team GB) at Olympic and Paralympic Games since the introduction of National Lottery contributions to sport funding in 1997.


Any form of gambling (legal or otherwise) presents potential risks that some degree of social or personal harm may result.

World MapInternational 

There are about 80 countries, worldwide, that have some type of National Lottery; and multiple lottery products exist in many countries. Within some countries lotteries are sanctioned by regional/state/provincial/territorial/etc. government [source: Lotteries by country, Wikipedia]. There are also a number of different ‘lottery’ systems – the common element being the sale of a lottery product (usually a ticket) with the prospect of substantial reward for the winner, based upon chance. Some systems use the term ‘lottery’ for games that may not rely entirely upon the element of chance (i.e. an element of knowledge or skill can be used in predicting results) – these alternative systems will not be considered in this discussion.

The exact number of countries where a National Lottery contributes some revenue to sport (i.e. as one of many 'good causes') is unclear. However, many countries that compete favourably at Summer and/or Winter Olympic/Paralympic Games have a component of sport funding from National Lottery sources, including 24 EU nations, plus Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and Switzerland.  

Many of our attitudes about the value or usefulness of lotteries are based upon our perception regarding participation (i.e. purchase of a lottery ticket) – whether this is gambling (which may be an addictive behaviour for some individuals) or a consumer decision (i.e. discretionary entertainment spending)?

  • Sports gambling as consumption: Evidence from demand for sports lottery, Mao L, Zhang J and Connaughton D, Sport Management Review, Volume 18, Issue 3 (2015). This report analyses the determinants of sports lottery demand in China. Scholars working in the disciplines of psychology, economics, and sociology, have explored the phenomenon of lotteries. There are two broad theories put forward: (1) that lottery play is motivated by the prospect of gaining ‘something for nothing’ as a form of gambling, and; (2) that lottery play is a consumer activity that is an expression of allegiance with a team or sports in general.

There are also perceptual differences, as well as common ethical issues, between ‘gambling’ on a National Lottery and ‘gambling’ on sport and ‘gambling’ more generally. Purchase of a lottery ticket is seen as 'gambling' on a random outcome, not on the outcome of a sporting contest; although sport may be a beneficiary of the proceeds. Legal betting on sports events is permitted (within an established framework) by governments, who receive a tax benefit. Other associations between gambling and sport (i.e. advertising, sponsorship, endorsement, etc.) provide significant financial benefit to some sporting organisations. Any association between sport and 'gambling' will present ethical dilemmas for the sport sector.

More information about these ethical issues can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport portfolio, Ethical Sponsorship and Advertising in Sport

Australia mapAustralia 

In December 2018 the Play for Purpose charity sport raffle was launched. Play for Purpose is a not-for-profit online raffle supported by the 50-50 Foundation, Tabcorp and the Australian Sports Foundation (ASF), and endorsed by Sport Australia (formerly the Australian Sports Commission). The need for more diverse funding sources was identified in the Australian Government’s national sport plan, Sport 2030, and the new raffle is aimed at helping to fulfill that need. Clubs will not be charged to participate in the raffle and a minimum of AU$5 from every $10 ticket will go to club based charitable sporting projects. Funds raised through Play For Purpose must be used for charitable sporting projects. 

Prior to the launch of Play for Purpose there had been a long history of attempts to develop a national lottery for the Australian sport sector starting with a commercial proposal provided to the Australian Government in 1979. The proposal was subject to the adoption of a legislative framework however, no action was taken at the time.

  • A proposal for the introduction of a National Sports Lottery, Carlton Marketing Services, report presented to the Australian Government, Department of Home Affairs (1979). The objectives of this report were to: (1) identify a case for lottery funding of Australian sports, and; (2) state the business case for an external service provider to deliver a National Sports Lottery. [Held by the Clearinghouse for Sport, GV675.C37]

The issue of a national lottery was discussed again in 1983 by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Expenditure, during its inquiry into Federal Government assistance to sport and recreation.

The Committee conceded that there was some support for the idea of a lottery but that States were unenthusiastic about the idea, as they considered it would inevitably erode their own lottery revenue potential. Lotteries in Australia have historically been under the legislative control of State Governments. The Department of Finance advised the Standing Committee that legislative backing would be needed if the Federal Government were to enter into lotteries. There appears to be no provision in the Australian Constitution that grants power to the Commonwealth, with respect to lotteries.

The 1983 Committee agreed with the assessment that a national lottery was not feasible without the backing of the States; but even if that were to be realised, the Committee was not inclined to recommend a lottery proposal. The government of the day was unconvinced that sport and recreation had a high enough priority to warrant preferred treatment over other areas of need, such as health and welfare.

The Department of Finance listed other possible problems if the Federal Government established a National Lottery which included sport: (1) funds for sport would be determined by subscriptions to the lottery, not by the needs of the sporting community or by the government’s priorities; (2) funding sport through a lottery would put sport in a preferred position over other expenditure proposals; and (3) there was potential for wasteful and unnecessary spending in the sport portfolio. The Department of Finance concluded that there was no compelling reason to set sport aside from other worthy programs in this manner. [source: Sports funding: Federal balancing act]

In 1983/84 An Interim Committee was established to look at the underpinning rationale for the role of an Australian Sports Commission. The Interim Committee's report, Chapter 7, ‘Supplementary Funding’ looked at various options to supplement direct government funding of sport, through the Commission. Recommendations regarding funding options had been made in the House of Representatives Committee report The Way We P(L)AY (1983), these were also considered by the Interim Committee, commenting that the findings of the House of Representatives report are open to debate. The Interim Committee appreciated the work that had already been devoted to investigating the option of lottery funding for sport (i.e. reported in The Way We P(L)AY) and recommended that a ‘Sportbonds’ concept was worthy of further study. 

In 1993 Sydney was awarded the 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games. During the lead-up to the Games the idea of a National Lottery, with dedicated proceeds to sport, gained popularity.

In 1995 a proposal to introduce a National Lottery to assist with the staging of the Sydney Olympics was raised before another House of Representatives committee.

At the time it was unclear whether an Australian National Lottery would tap uncommitted sources of money, given the plethora of gambling opportunities already available to the public. It seems intuitive that a National Lottery could divert funds away from other beneficiaries and thereby deprive the States and Territories of tax revenue.

Research (principally from the United States) has shown that Lottery sales, and their subsequent tax revenue, can remain stable over long periods of time. This research also suggests that lottery tax revenue remains stable during periods of both general economic growth and recession.

  • State Lottery sales and economic activity (PDF  - 608 KB), Mikesell J, National Tax Journal, Volume 47, Number 1 (1994). This paper measures the income elasticity of lottery sales across the economic climate in the United States, over a 10 year period.

Prior to the Sydney Olympics a Sport 2000 Task Force was formed to review the state of sport in Australia. One of the Task Force’s terms of reference was to investigate sources of ‘off budget’ funding for sport. The Task Force considered a number of options for supplementary funding and looked at a National Lottery system, but rejected the idea because of the possible social and economic implications of gaming, as well as possible constitutional impediments.

As the Sydney Olympics approached, the Task Force again looked at the lottery funding issue and concluded that additional sources of revenue, apart from government appropriations, would benefit sport; but the Task Force also agreed with previous evaluations that constitutional validity could be an obstacle to a National Lottery.

  • Shaping Up: A review of Commonwealth involvement in sport and recreation in Australia (PDF  - 588 KB) Oakley R, Sport 2000 Task Force (1999). Recognising the importance of elite sport, participation in sport and recreation activities, and the economic and social significance of the sport and recreation industry, the Commonwealth Minister for Sport and Tourism, the Hon Jackie Kelly MP, established a review of the Commonwealth’s involvement in Australian sport and recreation as a precursor to the development of a sport and recreation policy to take Australia beyond the Year 2000.

In 2008, the (then) Minister for Sport, Hon. Kate Ellis MP, stated (with reference to a federal sports lottery) “with the different State and Federal jurisdictions, that would have been not possible by the government at the time, but one thing I am very keen to do, and we've announced a process, to look at ways we can broaden the funding base for Australian sport, and I doubt very much that that will come up with a lottery being a viable option for us, but I do hope that there's ways that we can restructure the current system, so that we can get as many dollars going towards our athletes as possible.” [Source: ABC, AM Program, Lottery sports funding is not an option: Ellis]

The Crawford Review (2009) looked at the structure of Australian sport. This review iterated the findings of previous inquiries on the issue of a National Sport Lottery; highlighting the constitutional hurdles. The Crawford Review concluded there were enough opportunities available for people to engage in gambling, so another lottery was not warranted. The Crawford Review made a number of recommendations regarding responsibilities for program funding, including: (1) for elite sport, the Australian Government should be responsible for support of national level programs; (2) State and Territory Governments should be responsible for state and territory level programs and collaborate with local governments for developmental programs; and (3) sports funding should be maintained at existing levels.

The 2010 government policy document, Australian Sport: the Pathway to Success, provides a response to the Independent Review’s (i.e. Crawford) recommendation 8.4, “The Australian Government should not introduce a national sports lottery at this stage, but should negotiate with state and territory governments to provide a share of existing lottery revenue for sport and recreation facilities and programs.” The Australian Government agreed that a National Sports Lottery was not warranted at that stage.

Within the past two years, advocacy for a National Sports Lottery as a funding source for Australian sport has been taken-up by the Chairman of Sport Australia, John Wylie AM. Mr Wylie has commented on the need for Australia to provide adequate funding for international sporting success, particularly at Olympic/Paralympic Games.

For Australia to maintain its record of elite success, there’s no doubt we will need more funding over time. Other countries are investing more and the environment is much more competitive, and we owe it to our athletes to provide the necessary support. More funding will be needed and we have to think about where that funding will come from, so we want to look at a sports lottery. We are going to look at it very, very seriously. Many other countries have the benefit of funding from a lottery, including some of our closest competitors. John Wylie AM ‘Australian Sports Commission pushes lottery to drive success’, Jeffery N, The Australian, 28 November 2015

  More recent Australian media coverage

  • Queensland rejects sports lottery idea [paywall]. Le Grand, C., The Australian (22 August 2017). Queensland has rejected a federal government proposal to boost funding for elite athletes through a British-style national sports ­lottery, warning it would further embed gambling in sport.
  • Olympic fund still a lottery, with state sports ministers off track [paywall]. Hutchinson, S., The Australian (21 August 2017). A $100 million plan to fast-track a national sports lottery to support the Australian Olympic team in Tokyo is under threat, as state governments say they need more time for consultation. 
  • Federal government sports lotto faces many more hurdles and much opposition. Stensholt J., The Australian Financial Review (23 July 2017). Work on the $50 million national sports lottery is moving quickly, with federal Sports Minister Greg Hunt understood to have met or spoken to the bosses of several gambling and broadcasting companies in recent weeks.
  • 'Very big thought bubble' on lotteries risks $1.6b in funding. Toscano, N., The Sydney Morning Herald (27 July 2017). A proposed $50 million national sports lottery to bankroll Australian athletes has been rebuked by newsagents as a "very big thought bubble" that could erode funding to hospitals, schools and charities. 
  • Lottery on $100m fast-track [paywall]. Le Grand C., The Australian (22 May 2017). Australia's Tokyo Olympics campaign will benefit from $100 million in projected new funding as the federal government reveals plans to establish a sports lottery two years before the 2020 opening ceremony to arrest our national decline in world sport.
  • Australian sports would benefit from national lottery funds [paywall]. Le Grand C., The Australian (3 December 2016). During the past few weeks, the stark future confronting Australia’s Olympic sports has been laid bare. One by one, each sport has made its pitch: a detailed assessment of what went right and wrong in Rio, a best-guess forecast of what they may do in Tokyo, their plans for the next four years and the cost of those plans. One by one, the sports have been given the same message from those who hold the purse strings for Australian sport: there is little money now, there will be less tomorrow.
  • ASC boss John Wylie pushes 'responsible' lottery to fund Olympic success. Fairfax Media, The Sydney Morning Herald (28 November 2016). John Wylie insists a national online lottery to help rescue the nation's flagging Olympic fortunes would not fuel problem gambling. It would raise between $30 million and $50 million a year for elite and grass roots sport, which Wylie said was chronically underfunded.
  • National lottery scheme needed to boost Australia’s Olympic funding before Tokyo 2020. Ralph, J., Herald Sun (18 August 2016). Australia's only hopes of an increase in Olympic funding before Tokyo 2020 lie in a national lottery scheme being aggressively pushed by the Australian Sports Commission.
  • Australian Sports Commission pushes lottery to drive success [paywall]. Jeffery N., The Australian (28 November 2015). Chairman, John Wylie AM, has publicly stated that he favours a National Sport Lottery system to help Australia keep pace with its international competitors. Establishment of a lottery system, similar to systems used in Britain, Germany, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea.

International research 

The SPLISS project is an international research consortium that gathers and analyses data on the elite sport policies of 15 countries – Australia, Belgium (separated into Flanders and Wallonia regions), Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Japan, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, and Switzerland. The focus of this research is on the relationships between policies and international sporting success and accordingly, this offers insights into which factors might shape elite sport development pathways and sporting success on the international stage. In Chapter 5 of the latest SPLISS report ‘Financial Support’ is broken down into government (treasury), lottery, and ‘other’ (i.e. a combination of sponsorship and commercial) sources.

Of the 15 nations studied in the SPLISS project, only Australian sport has no lottery funding sources (note: data regarding lottery funding for elite sport in France and Spain was not available, and therefore, not reported). South Korea received 86% of its elite sport funding from lottery sources, followed by Denmark (78%), Portugal (65%), Brazil (53%), and Switzerland (41%), all other nations reported lottery sources at about a quarter, or less, of their total national funding of elite sport. The SPLISS research has identified and highlighted the importance of government policies that provide financial assistance to elite sport and thus, international success. Although conclusions regarding the intra-governmental sources of elite sport funding are not drawn.

SPLISS and other research clearly shows that government support for sport, through policies and direct (i.e. treasury) funding, are primary drivers of sport system success. 

  • Successful Elite Sport Policies: An international comparison of the Sport Policy factors leading to international sporting success (SPLISS 2.0) in 15 nations (PDF  - 4.1 MB), De Bosscher V, Shibli S, Westerbeek H and Bottenburg M, SPLISS (2015). One of the key discussion points about elite sport competition is to what extent medals can be “bought”. There is a strong positive relationship between the absolute amount of elite sport funding invested by nations and their success. The countries that invest most in elite sport, with government (i.e. treasury) or lottery funding over 100 million euros a year are also the most successful nations in summer/winter Olympic sports. Nation by nation diagnostics shows that Australia, France, Japan and the Netherlands can be identified as the most efficient nations in summer sports given their investment in elite sport. Whilst ‘money in equals medals out’ it does not follow that ‘more money in equals more medals’. Nations suffering from diminishing returns on investment were Australia, France, Finland and Belgium whose expenditures increased over a ten year period between 2001 and 2011, but market share decreased in relative terms, in both in summer and winter sports. Countries such as Japan and Brazil are investing heavily and they are becoming more successful in summer sports, taking market share from the established nations.

The strongest argument for the establishment of a National Lottery, with proceeds dedicated to ‘worthy causes’ (e.g. sport, cultural, heritage projects, etc.) is the potential for a non-government revenue stream into those sectors. While acknowledging there would be debate regarding which sports or projects could receive funding; how much they receive; and toward what purpose (e.g. high performance or grassroots programs); there may be other potential impacts of adopting a Sports Lottery. The flow-on of non-government funding sources might affect state and local government priorities. Would lottery revenue be used to ‘top-up’ state and local funding of sport, or replace it (particularly for facility and infrastructure projects)?

United Kingdom flagUnited Kingdom 

The potential impact of lottery funding as a contributor to high performance sport is illustrated by the 'success' of Team Great Britain in Olympic and Paralympic Games. During the period 1995 through 2016, significant increases in government funding to sport, as well as the introduction of a National Lottery (part of the proceeds going to sport) have lifted the UK's Olympic and Paralympic results.

While the percentage of National Lottery distributions to each community sector (i.e. worthy causes) may vary from year-to-year, the long-term approximate distributions by sector are: heritage (20%), sport (17%), arts (16%), health education (15%), charities (12%), environment education (11%), and millennium projects (7%). [source: Department for Culture, Media, and Sport, lottery grants]

The UK Lottery also contributed almost £2.2 billion towards the costs of staging the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.

UK Sport is one of 12 designated distributors of National Lottery proceeds. The National Lottery contributed about £337m (approximately $606 million Australian) to the ongoing funding of elite sport in the UK during the post-London Olympic quadrennial, 2013-2017. Since National Lottery funding became available to Olympic and Paralympic sports in 1997, British athletes have substantially improved their international standing, based upon medals won at Olympic and Paralympic Games. [source: UK Sport, the National Lottery, funding partners]

UK Sport is supported through both National Lottery and Exchequer funds, as well as corporate sponsors. Currently, UK Sport has a budget of £543 million (approximately $945 million Australian). This is used to support programs, high performance investments, National Sporting Bodies, athletes, events and partner investments. [source: How UK Sport funding works, UK Sport]

However, the Athlete Assistance Awards (i.e. money paid directly to high performance athletes in support of their Olympic/Paralympic preparation) is solely funded by National Lottery grants. Direct athlete support is typically worth around £36,000 to £60,000 (i.e. approximately $69,000 to $115,000 Australian) per athlete per annum at the Podium level; and £23,000 to £40,000 (i.e. approximately $44,000 to $76,000 Australian) per athlete at the Podium Potential level, depending on the sport.

Exchequer and Lottery funding of £328 million (approximately $571 million Australian) flows on to Sport England for participation and grassroots sport projects. [source: Sport England Annual Report & Accounts, 2015-16, p48] 

Criticism of the UK National Lottery is often grounded as a moral or ethical issue, with the view that a lottery may encourage underage or excessive gambling. The under-age gambling hypothesis has been tested in the UK, survey research conducted in 2001 showed that 47% of children in the UK between the ages of 12 and 15 years had gambled on National Lottery scratch cards and 40% on the main lottery draw; although sports betting in the UK remains illegal for persons under the age of 16 years. These figures did not substantially change in the years leading-up to the London Games, even though greater promotion of the National Lottery and its connection with supporting the London Olympics/Paralympics was in the public eye.

  • Underage gambling in England and Wales, Research conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the National Lottery Commission (2012). Rates of ‘under-age’ gambling have stabilised since 2008. The profile of children who have gambled is consistent with previous research, most notably; boys are more likely to gamble than girls. Children from single parent households and households where neither parent works are more likely to gamble, and children who perceive they are not doing well at school are also more likely to say they gamble than those who feel they are doing well academically.

In contrast to survey research that shows a stable gambling rate among UK children (which is illegal), the Parliament has continued to look at the social impacts of various forms of gambling and a continued debate on the pros and cons of gambling remains.

Opposition to National Lotteries 

Resistance to National Lotteries has also come from within the gambling industries themselves (i.e. principally, horse racing and other forms of legal sports betting) on the grounds that lotteries take away from other forms of gambling. However, information released by the European Gaming and Betting Association indicates that the proliferation of online gambling products has not adversely affected National Lottery ticket sales in Europe. The European and global lottery sectors have shown steady growth, despite difficult global economic circumstances. [source: Sports Betting Report, European Gaming and Betting Association]

The moral case against lotteries is largely grounded in the statistical evidence regarding which segments of the population are most likely to gamble. Research from the United States, where 43 of the 50 States have some form of government sanctioned lottery, shows that government revenue from lotteries (i.e. in the form of tax) is a regressive tax. One study found that the poorest third of US households purchase half of all lottery tickets. Another study found that, on average, households in the lowest twenty percent on a socio-economic scale spent more than twice the amount on lottery tickets as households in the highest 20% of income. A 2002 survey found that 66% of Americans had played a lottery during the past year, and 13% said they are weekly players. There are also studies showing that segments of the community (e.g. African Americans and Hispanics) spent more money on lottery tickets than other groups, and that lottery play is inversely related to formal education.

There is also the view that introducing a National Sports Lottery can potentially ‘politicise’ sport. The 1978 Royal Commission on Gambling in the United Kingdom considered the benefits of a National Lottery for ‘deserving causes’ that would be unfettered by short-term political and public pressure. Successive Prime Ministers enthusiastically promoted the cause of a National Lottery until one was empowered in the UK by the National Lottery Act 1993. The National Lottery in the UK has become an institution that is seen as important to most people, whether they play sport or not. However, there has been continuous public debate regarding the selection of lottery funded causes and projects (across all sectors) – what constitutes ‘deserving causes’ and what may be perceived as frivolous or ‘loony’ causes?

The public debate surrounding the ethics of a National Sports Lottery is similar to other ethical debates linking some corporate entities or product sponsors to sport.

More information can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport portfolios, Ethical Sponsorship and Advertising in Sport and Alcohol Sponsorship and Advertising in Sport.

 Western Australia map

Western Australia (WA)

Western Australia’s Department of Sport and Recreation supports the development of a sustainable and diverse sport and recreation system that encourages participation, develops talent, and contributes to the health and wellbeing of individuals and groups in the state. Significant (although not complete) funding is provided by Lotterywest through the Sports Lotteries Account. Legislative authority for Lotterywest was established under the Lotteries Commission Act 1990, which requires 5% of net subscriptions be made available to the Ministry for Sport and Recreation. During the 2014-2015 financial year, this represented $15.5 million. [source: Annual Report 2014/2015, Department of Sport and Recreation, West Australia Government]

In addition, the Gambling and Wagering Commission Act 1987 allows for distribution of funds to the Department’s Sports Wagering Account for use on physical activity programs, research, and initiatives to increase participation. Last year $4.7 million was made available. 

Lotterywest has developed five broad criteria for grant eligibility: (1) extending the capacity of not-for-profit organisations; (2) strengthening community service delivery; (3) enhancing community development initiatives; (4) valuing Western Australia’s heritage, and; (5) advancing participation in community life.

There are three main priorities for the distribution of funds through the WA Department of Sport and Recreation: (1) sport and community organisations; (2) facilities, and; (3) regional areas. The general eligibility criteria of Lotterywest also apply.


Canada FlagCanada

The Interprovincial Lottery Corporation operates lottery games in Canada on behalf of the Provincial Governments. It is owned jointly by the five provincial lottery commissions: Atlantic (jurisdictions of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, as well as Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick); British Columbia Lottery Corporation; Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, Lotto-Quebec, and; Western Canada Lottery Corporation (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Northwest Territories and the Yukon). Each provincial organisation is responsible for marketing the national games within its own jurisdiction, and revenues are returned to each province in proportion to generated sales. The province of Saskatchewan has a Lotteries Trust Fund for Sport, Culture and Recreation, established as Sask Sport Inc., pursuant to the Interprovincial Lotteries Act (1974). Lottery funding supports a grants system to eligible, non-profit volunteer organisations in the areas of sport, culture and recreation. Last year the Trust distributed funds to more than 1200 organisations, as well as support for nine Sport, Culture and Recreation Districts within the province.

For example, the lottery-funded system is delivered to the people of Saskatchewan through three independent community partners; Sask Sport, Inc., Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association Inc. and SaskCulture, Inc.; collectively they represent hundreds of community organisations and ensure that lottery funds benefit communities. Grants to beneficiary organisations in Saskatchewan (across all three sectors) are projected to be $52.3 million (note: the Canadian Dollar is approximately the same value as the Australian Dollar) in 2015-16 from total lottery revenue of approximately $185 million. The proportion of lottery funding going to ‘sport’ (as separate from culture and recreation activities) could not be identified. [source: Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund, 15/16 Performance Plan; and Sask Sport Annual Report 2014/15]

Sask Sport funds a wide range of grant programs, awards and scholarships, including: Kidsport, Aboriginal Sport Development, Saskatchewan Sport Awards, grant applications from over 90 sport organisations, 9 district associations, sport equipment grants program, and an individual athlete scholarship program.

In the Canadian province of Alberta, the Alberta Sport Connection (formerly the Alberta Sport, Recreation, Parks & Wildlife Foundation) is the organisation distributing Lottery funds. They fund (similar to Sask Sport) a wide range of programs and organisations within their jurisdiction.

  • The end doesn’t always justify the means: Public support for funding amateur sports and recreation using Alberta Lottery fund monies (abstract), Walker G, Mason D, Johnson B and Whitehead J, World Leisure Journal, Volume 50, Issue 4 (2008). This study examines the public's willingness to fund amateur sports and recreation using gambling monies in the province of Alberta, Canada. The study also tried to determine whether Albertans believe that current funding levels are sufficient, deficient, or excessive. A survey (N=759) of Albertians showed that slightly more than half the respondents supported the use of gambling monies for sport and recreation. Responses varied by sex, age, education, religious and moral beliefs.

The British Columbia Lottery Corporation and the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games launched a suite of lottery games in 2006 to raise money for the Games and amateur sport in B.C. Actual revenue did not meet projections and the lottery was discontinued after one year.

The Canadian Government also ran a sports lottery in the years preceding the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games that contributed $235 million toward the Games and $25 million to amateur sports in Canada. [source: Montreal 1976: Legacy of the Olympic Games in Montreal, Guay M, Association Olympique Canadienne (1996)]

China FlagChina

In 1989 a sports lottery was introduced in China for the purpose of funding the 11th Asian Games. In 1994 the Sports Lottery Management Centre, under the State Physical Culture Administration, was established with branch offices in provinces and cities. A nationwide lottery-selling network was established and the sports lottery was brought under standardized management. In recent years the sports lottery has taken on a more general role in raising funds. The Chinese soccer lottery had sales of 7.14 billion Yuan (note: 5 Yuan ≈ 1 Australian Dollar), raising 2.5 billion Yuan for the national public welfare fund. The money was used for such things as the Nationwide Physical Fitness Program, to help China's western regions and less developed regions fund sports programs and supplement the budgets of major sports events.

  • Audit finds National Lottery System is riddled with problems, Yun X, Caixin online (7 August 2015). Billions of yuan raised by China's state-run lotteries has been misused over the past three years, the national auditor says, shedding light on loose supervision and a lack of transparency regarding the massive system. Gambling is strictly banned in China, but the government runs one of the largest lotteries in the world. China has two official lottery systems under the oversight of the Ministry of Finance. One raises funds to support social welfare projects and is organised by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, while the other is operated by the General Administration of Sport to raise fund for the development of sports. Lottery tickets are sold at authorised vendors across the country.
  • Sports Lottery, China Through a Lens, China Internet Information Center.

Europe FlagEuropean Union

National Lotteries in European countries are closely connected to funding ‘good causes’, particularly sport. Twenty-four of the 28 European Union nations currently conduct national lotteries where some of the proceeds are dedicated to funding sport at elite and/or participation levels. The available data does not indicate exactly how each country distributes its contribution to sport (i.e. athlete or program support, facilities, etc.).

In absolute terms (2015 figures), there are five countries that made a substantial contribution to sport through lottery funding, they are: UK (€731 million), Germany (€400 million), France (€223 million), Finland (€150 million) and Poland (€148 million); this accounts for about 80% of all lottery contributions to sport in Europe. If the total payments per country are divided by population the ranking of the top five countries looks different; Cyprus (€33.5 per person), followed by Finland (€27.8), Denmark (€17.2), UK (€17.2) and Austria (€9.5). [Note: 1€ ~ £0.88 ~ $1.5 Australian dollar]

Employment figures from 2012 related to lottery contributions to ‘good causes’ had the effect of creating over 26,000 jobs; and economic ties with suppliers created almost 14,000 additional jobs. Hence, the employment multiplier takes the value of 1.5 which implies that every new job created through European member lottery payments to sport ensured additionally one-half of another job in Europe. From a country perspective one quarter of all jobs created in this manner were secured in the UK (principally stimulated by the 2012 London Olympic/Paralympic Games). The second-most sport related jobs are generated in Poland, followed by Germany, Finland and France.

  • The impact of Lotteries as a funding source for European sport (PDF  - 3.1 MB), Borrmann J, Fichtinger M, Grohall G, Helmenstein C, Kleissner A, Kerschbaum F Krabb P and Scholtes-Dash K, Sports Econ Austria, Institute of Sport Economics, Vienna (2015).This study addresses the question of whether lottery funding has contributed to the growth of sport, gross value added, and employment in the EU sports sector.  

France FlagFrance

France was one of the first countries in Europe to provide Federal Government funding for sport. Government support for sports dates back to President de Gaulle’s Economic Plan of 1958, which made sport a central point for the revival of national pride. Policies were introduced to increase grassroots participation, as well as developing international excellence.

The French Government provides assistance to the sports sector principally through annual grants to the various sport Federations. There are four main objectives of Government funding to the sport sector: (1) grassroots growth and support; (2) performance sport support (3) health promotion through sport, and; (4) sports employment.

Exchequer funding is ‘topped up’ by a subsidy from the National Lottery. Of particular note within the French system is the emphasis on the Government’s employment objective. Much of the contribution made to sport funding from the National Lottery goes toward human resources. The Ministry directly employs some 1,571 sports coaches within the 89 Sports Federations.

The French Government owns a 72% stake in the National Lottery, ‘La Francaise des Jeux’. In 2007 (latest available figures) the Lottery contributed €236 million (approximately $354 million Australian) to sport; one-third at the grassroots level and two-thirds at the performance level.

  • Study on the contribution of the gambling industry to the funding of sports in two member states – the UK and France, Sports Business, report prepared for the European Gambling and Betting Association (2008). This report compares the models used in France and the UK. The UK system is more ‘entrepreneurial’, while the French system has a strong emphasis on a State run system. Both countries use lottery funding in partial support of elite and participation sport through structured programs. This report provides an analysis of the similarities and differences in the two systems.  

Germany FlagGermany

The German Sport Lottery, Deutsche Sportlotterie, was established in 2014-15 (replacing other lottery systems that contributed to sport) to improve the financial support provided to emerging and current German national level athletes. Unlike other national lotteries, the German Sport Lottery is solely dedicated to funding high performance sport athletes; not national sporting organisations. There are currently no direct athlete funding figures available, given the lottery is a relatively new initiative. However, a projected breakdown of lottery revenue allocates about 30% as direct athlete support to supplement existing German Sports Aid Foundation (DSH), providing financial assistance to approximately 3,800 elite, emerging elite, and sub-elite athletes; 30% distributed as lottery prizes; 22% on lottery administration, and; 17% to government as a lottery tax.

Japan FlagJapan

The Japan Sport Council (JSC) receives funding through the Sports Promotion Lottery known as ‘Toto’. In 2012 the JSC distributed funds to 3,070 sports organisations and clubs.

Toto was introduced in 2001 for the purpose of creating a new source of funding for the maintenance and improvement of the sports environment in Japan. The profits from Toto are calculated by deducting payments to prize winners and lottery administration expenses; two-thirds of the profits are then put toward sports promotion activities, whilst the other third is paid to the national treasury. Projected sports promotion lottery income to the JSC for fiscal year 2014-15 is 127 billion Yen (note: 84 Yen ≈ 1 Australian Dollar).

South Korea FlagSouth Korea

The National Lottery is managed by a government agency, the Korea Lottery Commission. It has the authority to issue, sell, and manage lottery products, but it entrusts private lottery companies with most of the operational details. Since 2003-04 National Lottery sales have remained at approximately 2.4 trillion Won (note: 875 Won ≈ 1 Australian Dollar) per year. The most recent public survey (2013) indicated that 65% of respondents felt the lottery system was good for the country. Priority areas for distributions of net revenue from the National Lottery are: housing subsidy for low-income groups, special welfare projects, disaster relief, welfare support to men of ‘national merit’ (retired military servicemen), and promotion of cultural/arts/sport.

The Korean Sports Promotion Foundation (KSPO) receives the benefits from two lottery products, Sport TOTO and Proto. Funds are allocated to national sports promotion programs (e.g. grassroots sports and physical activity), and used for the construction of sports infrastructure, such as recreational sports facilities, so that the whole nation can equally enjoy the benefits of sports participation. Since its establishment in 1989, KSPO has invested about 5.3 trillion Won into sport. [source: KSPO]

The Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism receives a share of National Lottery revenue. The Ministry’s overall annual budget (covering all sectors) is approximately 4.9 trillion Won, with investment in the sport sector at about 1.29 trillion Won. The ‘sport sector’ is broadly defined and includes sports performance outcomes, as well as many other objectives. [source:, government policies in focus]

Netherlands FlagNetherlands

The National Lottery allocates about 6% of its profit to sport, half of this is used for sport infrastructure. Elite sport receives about 40% and ‘Sport for All’ about 10%. Funds are distributed through the National Olympic Committee (NOC) and National Sports Federations (NSF). The NOC/NSF has three primary sources of income – Government, National Lottery, and corporate partners. [source: NOC/NSF]

In 2015 the Dutch government contributed approximately €70 million and the National Lottery €50 million; corporate sponsorship contributed about €10 million. The largest source of funding for sport comes from local government in the form of infrastructure and on-going support to local organisations; this totals about €1 billion annually (note: 1 Euro ≈ 1.5 Australian Dollar).

New Zealand FlagNew Zealand

New Zealand supports sport (in part) through national lottery proceeds. A variety of arts, cultural, sporting and community groups receive funding through the New Zealand Lotteries Commission. The Lottery Grants Board was set up by Parliament to benefit the community by distributing the profits from the games run by Lotto New Zealand. Approximately 20% of lotto profits are returned to the community via the Lottery Grants Board; Sport New Zealand is one of several agencies receiving and then distributing funds. In 2012 the NZ Lottery Commission distributed a total of $186.46 million (note: the Australian Dollar is approximately 1.1 NZ Dollars). From this total $72.66 million went to three government statutory bodies: $25.95 million to Creative New Zealand; $12.11 million to NZ Film Commission; and $34.6 million to Sport New Zealand (i.e. approximately $31 million Australian). Regional Community Committees received a total of $29.96 million and other National Committees and Funds received a total of $113.8 million. [source: NZ Lottery Commission]

United Kingdom flagUnited Kingdom

In the United Kingdom the Government, empowered by the National Lottery Act 1993, through the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, appoints and directs the Gambling Commission, which awards a licence to run the National Lottery. Camelot is the company holding the licence to operate the National Lottery until 2023. Camelot runs the most cost-efficient lottery in Europe, with around 4% of total revenue spent on operating costs; 28% distributed back to various sectors of the community (including sport); approximately 50% paid out in lottery prizes; 5% in sales commission to retailers; and 12% to the Government in Lottery Duty. There are 12 independent organisations representing arts, charities, education, the environment, health, heritage, sports, and voluntary organisations that act as distributors of lottery funding. The sport sector organisations include: UK Sport, Sport England, Sport Scotland, Sport Wales, and Sport Northern Ireland. Surveys indicate that more than 60% of the British population regularly plays the Lottery and more than 90% of the adult population has played the National Lottery at least once.

Australian government reports

  • Australian Gambling Statistics 1989–90 to 2014–15, 32nd edition (PDF  - 5.1 MB), Queensland Government, Statistician’s Office and Queensland Treasury (2016). This publication comprises statistics on turnover, expenditure, and government revenue from different gambling activities conducted in Australian states and territories. Lotto (NSW) and Tattslotto (VIC) combined lottery turnover in 2014-15 was $4.356 billion; and instant lottery (i.e. scratch tickets) turnover was an additional $511.35 million. Summary Tables
  • Sports funding: federal balancing act (PDF  - 1.95 MB) Jolly R, Australian Government, Parliamentary Library report (June 2013). This report traces the history of Federal Government involvement in sport from federation through the Howard government years. Prior to the Whitlam Government, only minor government support existed for Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games (formerly the Empire Games). Key events during the late 1970’s (i.e. principally Australia’s poor result at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games) and during the 80’s and 90’s included the establishment of the Australian Institute of Sport (1981) and the Australian Sports Commission (1985) and the seven year lead-up (1993-2000) to hosting the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. 

Report iconInternational reports

  • 2007 European Commission (EC) white paper on sport, European Union (2007). This report provides an overall case for government support of sport for health, social, and economic reasons and invites member states to reflect upon how best to maintain and develop sustainable financing models for long-term support of sporting organisations. (item 3.2)
  • The different funding models for grassroot sports in the EU (PDF  - 1.47 MB), Montel J, Waelbroeck-Rocha E, European Union (2010). Different financing models exist across EU member states. The 24 EU nations having a national lottery distribute revenue to sport differently. For example: Finland and Greece fund the Sport’s Ministry; Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, UK, and Estonia fund independent bodies (such as UK Sport); France, Poland, Slovenia and Lithuania use a dedicated sports fund; the Netherlands funds the umbrella organisation for Olympic sports; the Czech Republic funds sports federations directly; and other nations have unique systems that may include professional sports, Olympic sports and grassroots participation.
  • Is lottery gambling addictive? (PDF  - 173 KB) Guryan J and Schettini-Kearney M, Working Paper 14742, National Bureau of Economic Research (2009). Data from the Texas State Lottery (USA) suggests that after 6 months, roughly half of the initial increase in lottery consumption is maintained. After 18 months, roughly 40 percent of the initial shock persists, although estimates become less precise. These estimates provide an upper bound on the degree of addictiveness in lottery gambling.

Research iconResearch

  • Gambling as a Base for Hypothecated Taxation: The UK’s National Lottery and Electronic Gaming Machines in Queensland Australia (PDF  - 90 KB), Pickernell D, Brown K, Worthington A and Crawford M, Public Money and Management, Volume 24, Number 3 (2004). Legal forms of gambling represent a source of tax revenue for many governments. It is also promoted that proceeds from gambling can be spent on ‘good causes’ to benefit the community. Such spending is often seen as ‘additional’ to existing government activity. Investment in ‘good causes’ can be diverted into education, health, social and economic development; potentially substituting for taxation raised elsewhere in the economy. This study utilises two cases: the UK’s National Lottery and the impact of Electronic Gaming Machines (i.e. poker machines) in a low socio-economic region of Queensland to illustrate that, despite different contexts, the general distribution of funds from gambling has a disproportionate negative impact on low socio-economic segments of the population.
  • ‘Gambling Taxation in Australia’, Smith J, Discussion Paper Number 16, School of Economics and Politics, Australian National University (1998). The ethics, economics and fairness of gambling taxes presents a number of challenges to State Governments. In 1996 State tax revenue from gambling was $3.5 billion, or approximately 10% of general tax revenue. However, up to a third of Australia’s gambling taxes come from about 200,000 persons, with a disproportionately high number from low income households. Offsetting the regressive burden of gambling tax is the ‘gambling for good purpose’ approach adopted by government, that tax revenue can be invested in schools, public health and other worthy projects. [The Clearinghouse for Sport holds a copy of this document.]
  • 'Lottery Grants: Their impact in our community', Lotteries West (1997). The Lotteries Commission of Western Australia uses the profits of lottery gaming to support a range of community projects, events and organisations. This report is the end product of a project designed to measure the social and economic impact of Lotteries West funded programs. Case studies and focus groups were used to collect information for this study. Grants were found to contribute significantly to improving the quality of service delivery of not-for-profit organisations; generating positive social relationships; and supporting community life. [The Clearinghouse for Sport holds a copy of this document.]
  • The response of voluntary sports clubs to Sport England’s Lottery funding: cases of compliance, change and resistance, Garrett R, Managing Leisure, Volume 9 (2004). The effectiveness of Lottery funding distributed by Sport England should not be measured simply by its amount. The success of funding allocated at the grass roots level depends upon the willingness, determination, honesty and ability of the voluntary sports clubs that receive funding to adhere to the funding conditions. This paper provides evidence to suggest that whilst voluntary sports clubs are positive about receiving their Lottery funding from Sport England, their willingness and ability to fulfil their funding conditions are more varied.

print-mediaAustralian media

  • 'Collingwood Football Club to launch online lottery', John Stensholt, Financial Review (2 February 2017). AFL powerhouse Collingwood will announce its own online lottery, with profits going into its welfare and community programs. The club will announce a joint venture with ASX-listed Activistic Limited, whose subsidiary Plus Connect has gained a Northern Territory wagering licence, to run Magpie Millions. Plus Connect and Collingwood have created a joint venture, Sports Lottery Australia, which could eventually offer a white-label online lottery platform to other sports clubs around the country.
    Magpie Millions: new community initiative, Collingwood Football Club (3 February 2017). Magpie Millions is a first of its kind in Australia, a community-focussed secondary lottery product created to return all profits received by Collingwood to the many welfare programs, partnerships and grass roots activities the club is committed to. Each week, Magpie Millions players can wager on their pick of numbers of six of their favourite current Collingwood players and the number of a club legend for the opportunity to win $2 million. The weekly draw is conducted under the guidelines and regulations of the Northern Territory Gaming Commission. Each entry bet costs $2.50 and is restricted to people over the age of 18, a weekly limit of $20 is set for players.
    • The Collingwood Football Club ceased operation of the Magpie Millions lottery on 1 July 2018 [source: Collingwood and MRC finalise gaming and venue deal, Collingwood Football Club, (17 July 2018)]. The lottery now appears to be called Sports Millions with a percentage of each ticket ($0.625 per $2.50 ticket sold) allocated to community activities of chosen sports clubs [source: Sports Millions FAQ page, (accessed 17 July 2018)].  
  • 'Greg Hunt appointed Sport Minister, can a National Lottery spare Olympic blushes?' Anderson M, Online Casino News (23 January 2017). Newly appointed Health and Sports Minister, Greg Hunt, will inherit plans to introduce a National Lottery to create a UK-style funding scheme for the nation’s Olympians. Would a National Lottery save us from sporting embarrassment? It has certainly worked in the UK. It’s believed that in order to reap the benefits for Tokyo 2020, a National Lottery would need to be implemented by the end of this year, although it would not be a short-term fix; the real benefits would be seen in the medium-to-long-term. The Australian model would raise between $30 and $50 million per year.
  • 'Australian sports would benefit from national lottery funds', Le Grand C, The Australian (3 December 2016). During the past few weeks, the stark future confronting Australia’s Olympic sports has been laid bare. One by one, each sport has made its pitch: a detailed assessment of what went right and wrong in Rio; a best-guess forecast of what they may do in Tokyo; their plans for the next four years and the cost of those plans. One by one, the sports have been given the same message from those who hold the purse strings for Australian sport: there is little money now and there will be less tomorrow. Sports cannot be expected to achieve more if they are given incrementally less, year after year. No amount of money guarantees Olympic success. Yet money makes a difference to performance across time and unless it finds more, Australian sport can’t expect to stay in the game.
  • 'ASC boss John Wylie pushes 'responsible' lottery to fund Olympic success', Fairfax Media, Brisbane Times and The Sydney Morning Herald (28 November 2016). Chairman John Wylie insists a national online lottery to help rescue the nation's flagging Olympic fortunes would not fuel problem gambling. Wylie has proposed a lottery system, based on the UK model, as part of a plan to raise money for elite and community sport. The ASC predicts a lottery system would appeal to less impulsive gamblers than other types of gaming – "people who would be motivated to buy a lottery ticket because it's going to a good community cause". Wylie would also consider supporting a tax on sugary drinks, recently proposed by the Grattan Institute, if the proceeds were pumped into community health and sport.
  • 'National lottery our last best hope to remain a great sporting nation', Chip Le Grand, The Australian (28 November 2016). Armed with figures showing that Australian high-performance sport is being outspent two to one by Britain, and modeling indicating that a British-style lottery would generate up to $50 million in additional funding, Chairman John Wylie has issued a “call to action’’ to arrest the national sporting decline. Coming off the disappointment of the Rio Olympics, where Australia recorded its lowest medal tally in 24 years, the ASC is not asking the Federal Government for more money from already strained public finances. Instead, it is seeking Federal Government support to create, through an online lottery, a substantial new funding source to benefit sport and the arts.
  • 'ASF to help Olympic sports replace funding through philanthropy', Nicole Jeffery, The Australian (10 November 2016). The Australian Sports Foundation (ASF) is gearing up to help Olympic sports replace dwindling government funding dollars through philanthropic donations. The ASF is the one organisation that the Australian Taxation Office allows to offer tax deductions for donations to sports projects, but sport received only 1 per cent of the $2.9 billion Australian philanthropic market, so there is a big opportunity for further growth. In addition to encouraging donations through the ASF, the Australian Sports Commission is advocating that the Federal Government introduce a national lottery to help fund elite sort.
  • 'Australia looks at national lottery to finance Olympic athletes', Chip Le Grand, The Australian (22 August 2016). Just when it seemed Anna Meares had nothing left to give for team, track and country, she offered a piece of timely advice for those now raking over the ashes of Australia’s performance in Rio. “I always go out to win; so does every other bastard in the world too.”
  • 'Sports lottery would boost Olympic efforts, but faces hurdles', John Stensholt, Australian Financial Review (20 August 2016). To find the source of Great Britain's success, go back to the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. There, Team GB won a solitary gold medal while Australia took home 10. Then-Prime Minister John Major decided something needed to be done and the idea of the National Lottery was born, with a chunk of the proceeds to be diverted to into so-called "good causes". But consider the issues that need to be overcome in Australia.
  • 'National lottery scheme needed to boost Australia’s Olympic funding before Tokyo 2020', Jon Ralph, Herald Sun (18 August 2016). Australia’s only hopes of an increase in Olympic funding before Tokyo 2020 lie in a national lottery scheme being aggressively pushed by the Australian Sports Commission.

Video iconClearinghouse Videos

Please note a number of the resources below (as indicated) are restricted to ‘GOLD' AIS Advantage small AIS Advantage members only.
Please see the Clearinghouse membership categories for further information.

  • London's Olympic Experience, Hon Hugh Robertson, MP, British Minister of State for Sport and Tourism, Smart Talk Video Series, Australian Institute of Sport (8 May 2013). Minister Robertson talks about the success of the 2012 London Olympic Games. As part of this discussion he highlights improvements in Olympic performances made by the UK Team, and credits National Lottery funding to sport as one reason for this improvement.

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