The president of the Economic and Social Council (CES), Francisco Assis, will be promoting a study on the social impact of scratch card addiction and will inform the Government in the hope that it will respond in relation to the launch of the new instant lottery (scratch card).
“The Government should reconsider the launch of a new instant lottery, which is foreseen in the State Budget. (...) If I had government responsibilities, I would wait, at least, for the study that CES will conduct”, said Francisco Assis to Lusa.
Researchers from the University of Minho are to start the study on the social consequences of scratch cards and the study is foreseen in the CES Activity Plan for this year.
This new scratch card is highlighted in the main budgetary policy measures such as Lotaria Instantânea do Património Cultural, with expected revenue of €5 million.
For Francisco Assis it is not acceptable to think about financing any investment at the expense of impoverishing those who are addicted to this type of game.
“I fear that the launch of another scratch card, although the intention is good, (...) will contribute to aggravating this addiction problem that destroys people from the most disadvantaged social sectors”.
Considering that “this is not a minor issue”, the CES president has decided to proceed with the study, which will involve specialists from various areas.
“It is not for me to make appeals [to the Government], but to inform that the CES is going to make the study that constitutes in a way as an appeal. We are not decision makers, but we have a responsibility to draw attention to the problems”, he said.
Scratch cards represent 50 percent of the total lottery revenues and their sales have been growing significantly since 2010, according to a study by Daniela Vilaverde and Pedro Morgado in March 2020.
According to the same study, in 2018 the value of scratch cards sold in Portugal was €1.594 million, which means that each person spent, on average, around €160 a year on scratch cards.
In Spain, scratch cards worth €627.1 million were sold in the same year, which is equivalent to about €14 per person.
Francisco Assis also said that, according to medical experts, scratch cards create an easy addiction to the game because they are fast, they are cheap, there is no need to understand the game and they are easy to buy because they are for sale in many stores.
“And it is people with lower incomes who are the most addicted,” he said, recalling international studies on the subject.
The CES president considered that “the problem is more serious than you think” because the destruction of individuals and their families is at stake.
“It is immoral to ignore this issue and remain undaunted at using these games to finance anything (...) we are contributing to the self-destruction of many individuals from the most disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds,” he said.
Francisco Assis argued that the CES must be attentive to social issues and must produce serious documents to present to decision makers, “to give more consistency to political decisions in the economic and social areas”.