THE NATIONAL LOTTERY: A FORMIDABLE INSTRUMENT OF SOCIAL CONSERVATISM

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THE LOTTERY: A LONG PAST… FULL OF FUTURE?

Leaders, the magazine of the Cercle de Lorraine, devoted a dossier in 2013 to the National Lottery, « creator of opportunities loaded with history. » The Cercle de Lorraine knows what it is talking about, as it reserves its prestigious venue « for business leaders, professionals, diplomats and European civil servants as well as personalities from the academic and political world ». With a one-time entrance fee of 1,750 euros and an annual membership fee of 1,530 euros, you will need a few winning tickets to get through the doors and obtain the membership card, « the precious sesame that will give you access to the Circle »(1).

After more than 80 years of existence, the National Lottery is an established institution. Philippe-Edgar Detry, who is none other than the grand-nephew of the founder of the National Lottery and a member of the Cercle de Lorraine, is the manager of the patronage department, the first in the country in this field. It is that the Lottery, in addition to being of considerable ideological power, surrounds itself with an armor of symbolic protection without common measure that is the patronage. Because why attack the wealth if you distribute some of it? Why blame the members of the Lottery Board of Directors for winning obscene amounts of money, when they « Theymake dreams come true, support sportsmen and women, help cultural initiatives to develop and give young people a maximum of chances (…) Partly thanks to you, because every time you play, you help!

We do not bite the hand that feeds us. When we support financially the National Council for Animal Protection, small producers in southern countries, PAN Europe and its actions in favor of the use of alternative solutions to pesticides, Be Gold which helps young athletes, the Belgian Paralympic Committee which helps athletes with a physical, visual or mental disability, Veterinarians Without Borders in Rwanda, the non-profit organization Take Off which provides sick children with free computer facilities to enable them to attend classes, etc., when you are one of these structures that receives part of the 185,300,000 euros in subsidies, or the 14,500,000 euros in sponsorship, there is little chance that you will criticize the National Lottery(2)It is not a matter of a single person’s being able to afford to pay, but rather of being asked to eradicate it on the grounds that promoting wealth in a system that works to create misery is an anti-democratic indecency. There is thus a tacit agreement between the big established fortunes, most often family fortunes, the politicians, the players and the beneficiaries of the patronage. Attacking the country’s leading patron is not without the risk of a front of outraged reactions from various quarters. 

Behind this tacit agreement is implicitly built the opinion that it is only a freedom of each one to become rich, that those who are already rich have worked for, create jobs, are indispensable to society. Of course, this is a vast joke and the socio-economic reality easily demonstrates it: the big fortunes are parasites of society, who distribute downstream what is not taken from them upstream, entrepreneurs strutting around in Viva For Life or multi-millionaire stars with bank accounts in a tax haven showing off at Restos du Coeur, attracting the glories of charity. Thus, no worries, while the members of the Lorraine circle create misery, their colleague Philippe-Edgar Detry works to create dreams. And they buy the silence of the politicians by paying them handsomely for useless positions in the Board of Directors of the National Lottery, from where they shower their colleagues in the Ministries who receive « an envelope with which they will play Saint Nicholas »(3).

THE HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL LOTTERY 

Let’s go back a bit. We are in 1934, the finances are bad following the great recession of the 30s and René-François Detry, then chief of staff of the minister of the colonies, proposes to set up a lottery whose receipts will feed the colony. Battle broke out: posters, advertising films, illuminated signs, colonization of the press and radio, postcards, coasters… the success is there. Put on hold during the Second World War, the institution was revived and transformed into the Winter Relief Lottery whose objective was to help the post-war Belgian population. Taking back its original tasks, intended for the colony, it gradually turned to a patronage activity to help « Belgians in need ». In February 1953, following a deadly tidal wave, the Belgian Red Cross received half of the profits from a special draw. 

With the « independence » of the Congo in 1960, from Colonial, the Lottery becomes National(4) and gains its success, its turnover growing every year and redistributing gains to various organizations, such as the King Baudouin Foundation, the Anti-Poison Center, Child Focus, the Mint, Bozar, Europalia… It also provides subsidies « through calls for projects aimed at sustainable development, the fight against poverty and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals ». Finally, it also interferes in the communes and districts, helping financially to build playgrounds, to organize a village festival or a sports competition. 

« Today, more than ever, the National Lottery is concerned about its image and is at the forefront of communication.(5)He has to make people accept this fabulous paradox of having the poorest people voluntarily finance the training of a few new rich people, and thus participate in a form of reverse taxation where many give for one. Endowed with an all-round notoriety, benefiting from an aura corresponding to the image it wants to give, the National Lottery has the means to buy the silence of the others, allowing this formidable trick of prestidigitation which consists in extinguishing the protest against the scandalous wealth by deluding subjects that they will be able to become it. Yet, given the odds of winning the jackpot, the National Lottery is mostly a creator of bad luck, which players and those who watch the « big winner » show evade simply because of a hope that ignores reality. 

AUTOPSY OF THE NATIONAL LOTTERY: AT THE HEART OF THE PROPAGANDA AND LEGITIMIZATION ORGAN OF THE MONEY KING 

The national lottery is a vast machine with a well-tuned gear. Governed by the law of April 19, 2002, it has a turnover of around 1 billion 200 million per year. Its Board of Directors (BoD), appointed by the King (i.e. the federal government), is composed of 14 members appointed for 6 years and renewable(6).

It is by diving into the mysteries of the National Lottery that the workings of a total system are revealed, which rewards its administrators, maintains the illusion of « what if it were you! » with omnipresent marketing , distributing subsidies and sponsoring, and ensures a lock on thought. It is then difficult to perceive the principle that smolders within it, namely the deeply indecent ideology of individual enrichment at the expense of others. 

First of all, it is the managing director, who chairs the Management Committee, Jannie Haek, who breaks the record for apnea, receiving a cool 290,000 euros per year. Jannie Haek hasn’t been on Cumuleo’s radar(7) since 2005, but a little research goes a long way to understanding the character. The one whose mentor is Etienne Davignon(8), has been involved with several Socialist Party pundits (Louis Tobback, Luc Van de Bossche, Johan Vande Lanotte) and has been involved in various ministerial cabinets. The last mandates of 2005 show that he was at the same time remunerated for the functions of director of a strategic and general policy unit, managing director of ASTRID SA (Telecommunication) and managing director at SNCB. The individual, who has a degree in political science and lives in Bruges, started his political career as an inspector in the Ministry of Finance. Before ASTRID, he was President of BIAC (which manages Brussels airport). In 2013, he jumped from the position of Managing Director (CEO) of SNCB-Holding, which he had held since 2005, to that of Managing Director of the National Lottery… No unemployment for Haek. He is or has been a member of the board of directors of various organizations (NV LSO, BOIC, NVB, PMV, Executive Committee of the European Lottery)(9). On September 23, 2013, at the Guberna Members Forum hosted by the National Lottery, Jannie Haek titled her speech « Get Scandalously Rich, » to an audience most of whom are already rich. 

THE MAFIA OF THE NATIONAL LOTTERY BOARD 

The members of the National Lottery Board of Directors are, in 2017: 

  • Frédéric Van Der Schueren : the new president comes from the private sector. We know that he is director of Liquidity and Capital Management at the Belfius bank and close to the MR where he collaborates with the party’s study center (Jean Gol center).
  • The former president, Jean-Marc Lietart, currently a « simple administrator », comes from the PS. He had in 2015 three paid positions/offices(10): deputy chief of cabinet at the Government of the French Community, administrator of the National Lottery, administrator-delegate of FONSOC, asbl which manages the finances of the PS, in addition to unpaid positions.
  • Eddy Peeters : in addition to his mandate at the National Lottery, he is paid as director of the strategic and policy cell in the cabinet of Minister Kris Peeters.
  • Annemie Verhoeven : CD&V Antwerp, unknown in Cumuleo.
  • Herman De Bode : former Mc Kinsey and as head of cabinet of N‑VA Minister Jan Jambon, he has chaired the board of directors of Infrabel since January 1, 2017 (a position for which he receives a fixed annual portion of €27,200, supplemented by a variable portion consisting of attendance fees at meetings of €500 per board and €400 per committee and an annual allowance for operating expenses of €2,400(11)). He is also a member of the nomination and remuneration committee of PMV (where he earned €2,250 in 2016), a kind of organization that provides funds to companies and where he meets Jannie Haeck who earned €10,538 in 2016 (€6,198/year and €620 per CA)(12). This is in addition to the amount he receives for his administrative position on the Lottery Board.
  • Carine Doutrelepont : lawyer at the Brussels and Paris Bars, teaches at the Faculty of Law of the Free University of Brussels and at the Institute of European Studies, has assisted the Senate and represented the government in negotiations related to intellectual property.(13) She has been a director of Proximus, a member of the King Baudouin Foundation and an expert for the European Commission.(14)
  • Frédéric Cauderlier : Former journalist of RTLTVI for 11 years and current spokesman of Prime Minister Charles Michel.
  • Ermeline Gosselin : chief of staff of Elio Di Rupo in the city of Mons and former spokesperson of the PS.
  • Bart Stokmans : no data for him.
  • Eric Poncin : Secretary General of the CDH, pre
    President of Sofico, Vice President of Spaque.
  • Karl Dhont : Belgian expert on betting, he is the head of UEFA’s anti-corruption unit. Not playing in the small league, he is Founder, partner & investor of the Luxembourgish SICAV (société d’investissement à capital variable) Tartaros, member and treasurer of Gent Jazz and visiting professor at the VUB.
  • Lin Van Poucke : lawyer, coordinator of the student service within the N‑VA(15).

- Clarisse Albert : considered Didier Reynders’ right-hand man, her paid positions/activities in 2015 include: administrator of the National Lottery, administrator of the RTBF, member of the board/executive committee of Ecetia Finances. She is also director of Régie Média Belge, president of La Besace asbl, director of Le Forum asbl, Belgian Media Ventures sa, The Content Company sa. 

Clearly, the appointments are very political… because you don’t promote just anyone to the National Lottery Board’s « win for life ». 

WHAT DOES A NATIONAL LOTTERY ADMINISTRATOR EARN? 

Small calculation:

- For the president:
2 500€/month x 12 = 30 000€. 

Between 750 and 1,000€ in directors’ fees per Board of Directors. If he went every time, he would have between €24,000 and €32,000 in attendance fees alone. The president is therefore sure to receive 30,000€ + directors’ fees, which certainly brings him to a remuneration close to 50,000€.

- For the administrators: 1 250€/month x 12 = 15 000€. 

Between 500 and 1,000€ in directors’ fees per Board of Directors. If he or she attends all the Board of Directors’ meetings, the director will receive between €16,000 and €32,000. We can therefore assume that he earns at least and in total 25 000€ per year. 

In total, the political management of the lottery alone costs a little over 700,000€ per year, with the structure’s turnover being the most expensive. « The National Lottery spent €425,000 on its CA in 2014 (…) The cost of its CA exceeds even the median level of costs calculated by Guberna. »(16) That’s what it takes to be a « creator of hope »… for others. And it is known, hope makes you live! 

Certainly, administrators must adopt in practice what they invite their players, less fortunate than themselves, to become: « outrageously rich! » Question of balance. 

A.P.

Notes et références
  1. www.cercledelorraine.be
  2. S’il faut préciser, nous n’attaquons en rien les structures subsidiées, bien évidemment, nous montrons en quoi les subsides peuvent suborner d’une certaine façon les sujets, et, pris dans la nécessité de continuer leur activité, de briser toute critique radicale.
  3. Selon le député Georges Gilkinet, voir Alteréchos, avril 2017, qui consacre un dossier à la Loterie nationale.
  4. Elle sera toutefois durant une courte période intermédiaire appelée « Loterie Africaine », jusqu’en 1962.
  5. Leaders, numéro 168, novembre 2013.
  6. www.loterie-nationale.be/fr/a‑propos-de-nous/qui-sommes-nous/structure
  7. « Cumuleo travaille au développement du cadastre centralisé des rémunérations et des avantages en nature des mandats publics et des mandats dérivés. » https://www.cumuleo.be.
  8. Lorsque le journaliste révérencieux du Soir demande à Jannie Haek si au cours de son parcours des gens l’ont marqué et l’ont fait grandir et franchir des étapes, l’intéressé répond : « Eh bien oui, et de façon peut-être étonnante : sans doute Étienne Davignon, ça m’a toujours frappé, honnêtement, on a eu des contacts dans le cadre de différents dossiers, chaque fois on apprend quelque chose, et surtout le fait qu’il sait de façon bien équilibrée être le captain of industries, en même temps le visionnaire et en même temps être un peu ’’ le commis de l’État’’ (c’est Jannie Haeck qui mime les guillemets) qui assure qu’on reste un un peu (sic) dans dans l’intérêt général… et honnêtement, c’est incroyablement fort ». http://www.lesoir.be/1119965/article/ economie/rdv-ceo/2016–02-12/jannie-haek-loterie-nationaleavec-etienne-davignon-on-apprend-chaque-fois-quelq .
  9. http://www.guberna.be/sites/default/files/general/CV%20JANNIE% 20HAEK_eng_0.pdf
  10. On cite ici leurs mandats 2015, derniers en date sur le site Cumuleo, mais ils sont tous administrateurs, en 2017, de la Loterie nationale.
  11. www.infrabel.be/sites/default/files/documents/corporate_ governance_fr_2015.pdf .
  12. www.pmv.eu/nl/over-pmv
  13. www.doutrelepont.be/avocats/avocats/carine-doutrelepont?lg=fr &PHPSESSID=80df8e22ec327bb0f67108b131207902
  14. www.belfius.com/FR/qui-sommes-nous/managementcollaborateurs/conseil-administration/carine-doutrelepont/ index.aspx?firstWA=no
  15. www.n‑va.be/wie-is-wie/lin-van-poucke .
  16. L’Echo, 4 avril 2017.
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