Latest gambling news from Chile indicate that Polla Chilena, Chile’s state-owned gambling company is launching a new scratch card product today, promising to fund the lucky winners’ studies and expenses. Aptly named “Educacion de por vida” (Education for Life), the cards cost 500 pesos (about 1 US dollar) each and prizes come in the form of monthly payments of 200,000 pesos (USD 425) and 350,000 pesos (USD 740).
The scratch-and-match cards contain three games, the first one covering studies “for life” (20 years), the second one for preschool through high school (14 years), and the third one paying for 6 years in higher education.
The annuity payments are indexed, inheritable and paid monthly through an insurance policy.
Luz Marina Hernandez, Director of Printed Products (i.e., scratch cards and lottery tickets) at Polla Chilena said that the aim of the new product was to “provide an opportunity to improve the lives of families, because it is an additional option allowing people to study. We understand that many people do not or can not have the resources to pursue studies, or to study and work at the same time. This scratch card relieves some of the burden.”
“What we basically want is to provide once again assistance in a matter as important as education,” added Hernandez.
Critics of the new scheme point out that since Polla Chilena is a state monopoly under Chilean gambling laws, the new initiative is sending an awkward message about the government’s approach to education.
Andres Fielbaum, president of Chile’s University Student Federation (FECH) expressed his regrets that families have to “resort to gambling” to pay for the education of their children. “It is a sad sign of Chilean families being so desperate with how expensive education is, and because of it having turned into a business, that eventually they must gamble in order to be able to afford it,” said the student leader.
Although the scratch card claims to pay for education, winners are not actually obliged to spend the monthly payments on tuition. Thus the aspiring students might as well engage in casino games or internet betting in Chile and call their wins “tuition money”.