A scandal surrounding an online fertility lottery has unleashed waves of controversy throughout Britain and the world at large. As bizarre as it sounds - the story is true. Starting July 30th, prospective parents in the UK will be able to win advanced fertility treatments by buying online lottery tickets.
The Baby Jackpot
If you hear that woman is "gambling with her fertility" the scenario that comes to mind is that of someone not having kids until her late 30s or early 40s, not of someone going on the internet to actually gamble for it. But thanks the "win a baby lottery" - as the media has dubbed it - launched by Britain's To Hatch charity, this is exactly what's going to happen.
Each lottery ticket, worth just £20, has the potential to win £25,000 pounds' worth of fertility treatments at one of the country's best fertility clinics for the ticket holder(s). The prize package is extensive; it includes reproductive surgery, donor eggs or sperm and even a surrogate birth, if necessary. Other perks include luxury hotel accommodation prior to treatments, a mobile phone, the services of a personal assistant and chauffeur-driven transport to the clinic. Same-sex couples, single men and women and older people are all free to enter.
Not surprising, fertility regulators are up in arms about this "trivialisation" of human reproduction. The Gambling Commission has already released a statement saying that this is the government's problem: fertility gambling does not come under its jurisdiction. And of course the To Hatch charity is fighting back, saying that inadequate NHS provision is what causes so many people to pay for private fertility procedures in the first place.
The Jury's Out
Only time will tell what the outcome of all this will be, but in the meantime OCR still believes that online gambling should be about fun and entertainment, not about life-changing issues such as debt, paying the mortgage, and perhaps also fertility treatment. In short: stick to the slots and poker, and gamble responsibly!