- »The Lott Giveth as Tabcorp Taketh Away in Coronavirus Era
The Lott Giveth as Tabcorp Taketh Away in Coronavirus Era
The Lott received quite a bit of praise in the past week for its $1 million donation to Australian researchers to help accelerate the search for a COVID-19 vaccine. Unclaimed prize money via the Golden Casket was responsible for the funding.
Meanwhile, parent company Tabcorp stood down more than 700 of its employees through June 30.
Good News First: The Lott Giveth
Last week, The Lott announced that it will donate $1 million to help accelerate research into a vaccine for the coronavirus that became a pandemic. The donation is from the Golden Casket sector of The Lott, which is in charge of the lottery tickets and scratch cards sold through newsagents and other convenience stores.
The donation will actually stem from a fund of unclaimed prize money. Many people who win lottery prizes do not claim them or don’t do so before they expire. That money then remains in a fund – this time having been collected for the last seven years – for something like this – a pandemic for which a vaccine could change the world.
The money will go to the University of Queensland’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences. It is one of only six research facilities around the world tasked with developing a vaccine to battle COVID-19. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) raises funds and assigns the research.
COVID-19 Vaccine Timeline
Most experts say that a proper vaccine for COVID-19 is one year to 18 months away. Science is not fast.
But the University of Queensland Project Director Dr. Trent Munro said that a significant jolt of funding as is being donated by The Lott could speed up that process. “This gift will help to significantly accelerate vaccine development efforts, allowing us to move more activities to happen in parallel,” he said, “and we are incredibly grateful for the support.”
The Lott Managing Director Sue van der Merwe said the donation was made on behalf of lottery players. She also added, “Delivering important health infrastructure services is why lotteries were first established in Australia more than a century ago. This donation continues our proud heritage of giving back to our community.”
While many of The Lott’s donations go to community initiatives that includes hospitals and disaster relief, others are reserved for health research. The need for a solution to the current pandemic certain fit the bill.
Tabcorp Taketh Away
The Lott’s parent company is Tabcorp, a gambling entertainment company that employs more than 5,000 people worldwide. And with the recent closures of Tabcorp’s hotels, clubs, TAB agencies, and sport events due to coronavirus around the globe and specifically in Australia, the announcement of employees being stood down was not a surprise.
Tabcorp admitted that it is standing down more than 700 employees. Most of the stood-down workers are from TAB booths and licensed venues that remain closed for the indefinite future. Some others will remain on the payroll but switch from full-time work to eight-day fortnights.
The changes for many employees are aimed to be in place no longer than through June 30. And during the time of non-employment, workers can access their accrued leave entitlements.
Top Down Cuts…In a Way
Tabcorp CEO David Attenborough admitted, “This continues to be a very challenging time for our people, businesses, partners, and the community.”
He noted that Tabcorp is exploring benefits for their employees that were stood down via the JobKeeper wage subsidy currently being considered in Parliament. The federal bill is valued at $130 billion and may provide up to $1,500 per worker per fortnight.
Since companies with more than $1 billion in annual turnover must show a 50% minimum revenue decline due to the coronavirus closures, it is unclear if Tabcorp employees will qualify. Attenborough and management are exploring the possibilities.
Attenborough noted the company’s focus on retaining jobs in the long term. “We are committed to working proactively and collaboratively with all our stakeholders so that we can collectively emerge from the COVID-19 period as strongly as possible.”
As for a personal sacrifice, Attenborough is reportedly taking a 20% reduction in fixed remuneration through June 30. Chairperson Paula Dwyer and all other board members will take a 10% cut in their fees.
Other cuts include an initial reduction of 40% of Tabcorp’s technology contractors. The company also gained some liquidity support by deferring state payroll, keno, and lottery taxes for six months. That will alleviate approximately $40 million per month of its burden.
Lastly, for now, Tabcorp reduced its capital expenditure program forecast to $120 million. The original amount was $160 million.