“No Syrian gambles,” a respected financial economist said yesterday in response to the announcement by the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) that it had achieved a “net contribution” of $300 million for the financial year 2016/17, the biggest profit since it was set up 49 years ago.
The source, speaking under condition of strict anonymity, said members of the Syrian community have trained themselves and their children not to put their hopes in such vagaries as gambling but rather in the discipline of hard work. He said the same held true for other members of the business community.
He also said NLCB’s record performance was a “perverse reaction” to the falling incomes of those who patronised its range of games, who he said were generally working class persons who would patronise “Play we” and “Cash Pot” and the other games which have been created by the NLCB and were drawn several times daily. Admitting that he too occasionally plays the Lotto, the economist said when buying his tickets, he observed people “scratching away” at their tickets while still at the booth, indicating that they needed the immediate cash payout and could not wait the several days involved in a possible win in the twice-weekly Lotto.
He said their reaction was perverse in the sense that because such persons were unable or unwilling to get another job they had resorted to clinging to hopes of winning some of the NLCB’s games despite the slim odds.
However, NLCB Chairman Marvin Johncilla said he would “not speculate about the behaviour of our gaming population. I can only comment on the strategies we have implemented as a progressive organisation to ensure that we cover our costs and return a reasonable profit.”
Johncilla attributed the board’s record performance to the fact that “the NLCB has been able to strengthen its capabilities and capacity in order to deepen its role as a responsible gaming organisation.”
He added that the organisation had also benefitted from a “a re-focused and re-energized management team driven by clear strategic priorities.”
He said those priorities were “basic business fundamentals in terms of ensuring that our cost profile is low; ensuring that our marketing is very aggressive; ensuring that we understand the business that we are in and using the available technology to leverage us in a way that we have, as I said, a reasonable return.”