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Breaking free from instant lottery | Civic Europe
Community development, Law, advocacy and policy

Breaking free from instant lottery

Scratching the surface of a neglected threat: Instant Lottery in Portugal is out of control


Who is behind this?

Sofia Costa Pinto

EDA - Ensaios e Diálogos Associação


Who is joining forces?



Jogadores Anónimos


ICVS - Life and Health Sciences Research Institute (To Be Confirmed)



Idea pitch

Instant Lottery (scratch-cards) has been encouraging excessive gambling due to its association as a rewarding experience, rapid event frequency and short payout. In Portugal scratch-card sales have been increasing and 2019 annual sales figure reached €160 per capita (in comparison to 14€ per capita in Spain). Our project aims to raise awareness to the levels of addiction that affect the most vulnerable population through advocacy campaigns for better control policies on this type of game.

Where will your project idea take place?

Lisbon Metropolitan Area

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

The addiction to scratch-cards is an epidemic issue in Portugal steeply increasing due to its inexpensive access to it, wide availability and acceptance by society and intensive advertisement. The lack of grasp of the low play-win ratio plus the levels of excitement the instant lottery provides to the unaware public can rapidly develop gambling disorder behavior and other public health concerns.
Also the absent transparency of actual pool prize money available in real time adds to the unfair trade that keeps the vulnerable public addicted to the hope of easy-money winning. Our role is to pressure the government - who currently sponsors, profits and controls the game, to assume stronger ethical and social responsibilities over the bet’s advertisement and sales regulation.

Who are you doing it for?

The key target is youth and middle age people from lower classes. Studies from ICVS show that “50% of individuals from 15-24 y.o. have gambled for money, with 18% of those reporting scratch-card gambling” (BALSA et al,2013). Gambling addiction during the teenage years might be linked to poorer functioning later in life. Research indicates that the lower classes population are the main affected, they buy 20 times more scratch-cards than the medium class. Taking in consideration the crises imposed by the COVID-19, the levels of anxiety and depression are escalating. It is expected an increase in the demand on scratch-card sales due to the fake idea of easy-money can be made through instant lottery. Without awareness, the current scenario puts the most vulnerable people even more vulnerable.

How do you plan to get there?

The idea will be developed according to the following phases and tasks:
1| Deepen diagnosis and solidifying the knowledge |2 months
1A| Specific data research of the current situation in Lisbon
1B| Anonymous interviews with people with scratch-card addiction
1C| Use of concepts of probability and statistics to evaluate the chances of winning/losing scratch-card lottery according to previous data researched | Expert from a local university
2| Communicating the knowledge |1 month
2A| Gather all the final data researched on Phase 1 and transform into concise and direct messages having in mind the target groups and the need of request better control policies from the government | copywriter
2B| Design of posters, stickers, flyers and social media posts with the messages created at 2A |art director
2C| Print graphic material (2B) |Team
3| Sharing the knowledge / Advocacy campaign |3 months
3A| Guerilla campaign activism for mass dissemination of the findings and awareness messages on streets and social media (2B) |Team
3B| Impact performance evaluation through an online petition signature collection to request better control policies by the government to be released at the last fortnight of project implementation |Team
3C| Documentation of the making of the process |Team
All tasks and activities will be led and supervised by the project manager

What are the expected results?

We acknowledge that our timeline is restricted for the size and complexity of the problematic in Lisbon but by the end of the 6 months of our awareness-raising campaigns we aim to have sparkled the break of the scratch-card game structure, positively influenced the civic society to request more transparency of actual pool prize money available and an initial decrease in the number of addiction cases at low income population and youth generation. By then, we also want to see an increasingly social pressure on the government - who currently sponsors, profits and controls the game, to assume stronger ethical and social responsibilities over the scratch-card lottery’s advertisement and sales regulation to protect the most vulnerable populations.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

Supported by the government, Portugal’s Instant lottery is a constantly growing market and “Breaking free from Instant Lottery” aims to raise awareness to the levels of addiction that affects especially the most vulnerable population and the prevention of gambling issues in younger generations. Through advocacy campaigns to better inform the civic society and ask them to sign petitions to pressure the government for better control policies on scratch-card lottery, our idea aims to contribute to new policy proposals engaging the decision makers to promote the protection of the vulnerable population, now and in the future. We believe that an empowered and conscious society is more capable of making structural changes in any type of policy.

Why is this idea important to you?

Our team is composed of urbanists, activists, designers, researchers and psychologists. Our experience improves the approach to audience engagement. We have the ability to meet individuals within their communities and build trust through shared experiences. We promote collective and community development processes through transdisciplinary practices of socio-cultural participation and intervention in the territory, implementing, whenever possible, long-term sustainable solutions.
Being also part of civil society, this subject is very close to our hearts because more than one of the team members have had family members or know someone who currently suffers or has suffered from scratch-card gambling addiction and had a seriously damaging impact on their families and circle of friends.

€ 35000,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

17.500 EUR Human Resources (research, management, communication)
10.500 EUR Implementation (Print, Press, Media, Guerrilla, Communication Campaign)
3.500 EUR Monitoring (Results, Reports, Documentation)
3.500 EUR Administrative (Production, Office, Travel )

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would love to have inputs from our peers around the Civic Europe online community on how to create meaningful awareness-raising activities for a broad range of public in order to push the government to impose better control policies over a public health issue.



Idea created on April 24, 2021
Last edit on April 26, 2021

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