Tabcorp endorses the idea of a lotto for vaccinated Australians

by Mia Chapman Last Updated
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Australian gambling giant Tabcorp has been approached by the Australian government about launching a special lotto for people vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Saturday Paper reports that the Morrison government held talks with the gambling confirm, something which Tabcorp admitted, after the company indicated it supported the idea in July.

“Introducing a dedicated lottery for those vaccinated people would require, among other things, navigating the requirements of our state lottery licences and responsible gambling practices, the approval of state government regulators, gaining clarification from the Therapeutic Goods Administration around incentivising vaccinations and maintaining customer privacy,” Tabcorp said.

Independent think tank the Grattan Institute supported the idea of a lottery, recommending the government to put up to $80 million as an incentive, with $10 million in weekly prizes granted to random vaccinated members of the public from November.

The proposed plan is similar to a lottery in the United States that offered a $6.7 million incentive for civilians.

Government working on vaccine incentive scheme

Head of Australia’s vaccine rollout Lieutenant-General John Frewen confirmed the government was working on an incentive scheme.

Despite clashing with Mr Morrison’s initial anti-lotto sentiments, the Lieutenant-General remained adamant the most important selling point for the vaccine was the “freedom” it offers the public.

“We’ll look at all sorts of possible alternatives,” he said.

“I mean there’s cash, there’s the idea of lotteries – all of those things have been discussed.

“What is resonating with people right now really is being able to get back to the sort of lifestyle we used to enjoy – international travel, not having to do quarantine, not having to go into lockdowns and those sorts of things.”

Ministers, researchers not opposed to vaccine lotto

Defence Minister Peter Dutton has previously backed the idea of a vaccine lottery as the government scrambles to get the country to its 80 per cent vaccination target.

“I’m in favour of the lottery. I think it’s a great idea,” he said.

“The only two flaws which the company has identified is they need regulation approval and someone to pay for it. So apart from that it seems like a sound proposal. Anything to incentivise people to get vaccinated I’m in favour of.”

Australia’s chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly said the government needs to find fresh ways to encourage people to get the vaccine.

“I think we really do need to look for incentives, as many incentives as we can,” he said in May.

“Some of these incentives will be talked about in the coming days and weeks, but I think the main incentive is because it’s going to actually protect you, your family and the community.”

A research fellow at Sydney Health Ethics in Sydney University’s medicine faculty, Dr Jane Williams, argued there is a misplaced emphasis in public debate on people’s unwillingness to be vaccinated.

She said there should be more focus on what stops people being vaccinated, including vaccine availability and personal cost in time, money and inconvenience.

There are issues with transport, leave, childcare and parking fees.

Williams doesn’t oppose incentives but said these other issues should be addressed first.

She refers to research from the London-based Nuffield Council on Bioethics on how to influence behaviour to benefit public health.

The institute’s “ladder of intervention” lays out steps for policymakers and the best order for taking them.

The ladder has eight rungs. Incentives are number five, after merely monitoring the situation, providing clear information, enabling choices and ensuring it is easy to make the best ones.

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