The WA lottery business celebrates 90 years in 2023 and prepares for 90 more.
Lotterywest has dispersed more than $17.3 billion in grants and prizes across the Western Australian community during the past 90 years.
Australia’s only state government-owned and operated lottery held its first lottery draw in 1933 and has distributed more than $6.3 billion in grants to support organisations and $11 billion in prizes in the years since.
“[T]he organisation had literally come out of post-Depression, went through World War Two, saw ups and downs, and has gone through lots of changes,” Professor Klinken said.
“But one of the really important things about Lotterywest … is that we’re part of the glue that keeps our society together.
“We’re owned by the people, run by the people, for the people. The profits that come out of [the lottery] go back into our community.
“We have big grants, like $6.5 million going to the Royal Flying Doctor [Service] and providing them with jets, down to smaller grants, an example being a $7,500 grant for Sailability WA, a group helping people with disability to participate in water sports.”
“The area I’m most passionate about is Indigenous issues and [exploring] how we can engage with Aboriginal-led organisations and help them to practise culture, knowledge, environmental management and so on,” he said.
“All of these things are crucial, not just for Aboriginal people but for the connection between the wider community and Aboriginal people, and how we can bring everyone together so we can have this lovely, warm and harmonious society.
“We’re blessed in WA; when you go around the world, visit other places and come back here, you realise what a remarkable, multicultural society we’ve got.”
“We received very clear instructions from Mark McGowan around what he saw coming and how we could help,” he said.
“The key was emergency relief as we knew there were people who were going to be in distress. We knew the retailers were going to struggle because the shops were going to be closed, we knew there were going to be events cancelled [with] a whole lot of community groups that relied on those events for survival.”
Lotterywest committed $159 million in COVID relief funding, which Professor Klinken said was crucial in showing how the organisation could be nimble, respond to crises and provide a benefit to community.
The announcement on September 27 came less than two years after Mr Addis commenced the dual role.
His last day was October 13, two months earlier than his contract was due to expire.
Lotterywest chief financial officer and manager of corporate services, Jeremy Hubble, has stepped in as acting chief executive for both Lotterywest and Healthway while the organisations search for a permanent replacement.
“A process will be initiated with the public sector commission to get a replacement for Ralph as soon as possible,” he said.
“We’ve had conversations with the commission, getting the ball rolling, deciding who’ll be sitting around the panel to do the interviews and those sorts of things.”
Finding a new chief executive is only one of several objectives in Lotterywest’s near future.
Professor Klinken said the organisations would look at previous social trends and, from this, determine the best approach to the provision of grants funds in the future.
“Looking at the last 10 years, Lotterywest has gone from being an $800 million per annum business to a $1.2 billion business. That’s a 50 per cent increase,” he said.
“[A billion-dollar business] has to be run incredibly efficiently to make sure it generates the revenue so we can have winners, clearly, but also so we can generate funds that are going to go back into the community.”
It is expected to be unveiled within the next 12 months.
“We wanted to do something really special and memorable that would have a long-lasting impact,” he said.
Additionally, Lotterywest has focused on improving its internal business operations, including with its Better Business Program.
“You go anywhere in the world and you can see how retailers are facing challenges,” he said.
“So what we want to do is ensure our relationship with our retailers is as good as it possibly can be.
“What benefits them will benefit us.
“We’re working through models [measuring] how we can assist retailers and their business.”
Another internal focus Lotterywest is set to undertake is a refresh of its 15-year-old gaming system.
“[T]here’s been lots of technological changes in 15 years so the whole lottery system needs to be brought up to speed and that’s a massive undertaking … the executive board are focused on,” Professor Klinken said.