PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION: by Tony O'BrienNews Weekly
Lottery players fleeced for $100 million
, April 28, 2007
A recently exposed Canadian lottery scandal has important lessons for Australia, writes Tony O'Brien.Corrupt Canadian lottery retailers have stolen, defrauded and cheated players of winnings worth CAN$100 million over a six-year period.
On March 26, 2007, the Ombudsman of the Canadian province of Ontario, André Marin, tabled a damning report entitled, A Game of Trust
(March 2007), into Ontario's Lottery and Gaming Commission.
What emerged from the report was not only a litany of corruption attributable to retailers, and a loss of player confidence in the integrity of the game; but, more importantly, a systemic break-down in government, especially in due diligence by government ministers and agencies.
The report has identified a failure to put in place adequate checks and balances against fraud, and a refusal by the regulator and governing gaming commission to listen to, and take action on, player complaints.
Furthermore, the report identifies sanctioned criminal activity, buck-passing, and total incompetence in the handling of public monies.
The recent political blunder by Victorian Transport Minister Lynne Kosky in instructing fellow Labor politicians and department officers to ignore customer complaints around public transport issues (reported in Melbourne's Herald Sun
, April 12, 2007), suggests that the Ontario report ought to be compulsory reading for all state and federal government ministers, CEOs of all municipal, state and federal government agencies, and section heads in all departments.
Still further, the Canadian report carries a clear warning for all Canadian (and, we might add, Australian) public officers of associations and registered companies that they are on notice to ensure proper checks and balances operate within their respective organisations.
The head-lopping and reform within the Ontario lottery system commenced immediately on the release of the report and no doubt will claim many scalps, including those of retailers, shop assistants, government officials and others.
Canadian lawyers have signalled massive claims for damages against Ontario's Lottery and Gaming Commission.
The Canadian lottery scandal serves as a salutary warning to all Australian states, as is clear from the report's opening sentence: “The Province of Ontario has become addicted to gambling revenue.”
From that first sentence, the failure of governance is catalogued throughout the 89 pages, including reports of systemic refusals by those responsible to monitor the blatant warning signs and to take appropriate action.
The full report is available through the Ontario Ombudsman website at: www.ombudsman.on.ca