ONCE (pronounced /onθe/), or Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles (National Organization of the Spanish Blind), is a Spanish foundation founded on December 13 1938 to raise funds with which to provide services for the blind and persons with serious visual impairment.

Although it is overseen by a board of patrons made up of representatives from various Spanish ministries, it does enjoy a certain amount of freedom of movement as regards the day-to-day running of its activities, and its general council is democratically elected from among its members.

As of June 2006, membership of the organization was 66,851 people, of whom 40% were over the age of 65.

Between them, the three pillars of the ONCE, that is, the General Directorate, the Fundación and CEOSA, ONCE's business corporation, employ over 40,000 blind, visually-impaired or sighted staff, as well as people with other disbilities.

The 3 Pillars of ONCE

While many of their activities overlap, there are, at least formally, three divisions of the ONCE:

General Directorate

The General Directorate is responsible for the day-to-day running of the organization, its social and cultural work, and so on. Through its general council, it maintains institutional relations with local, regional and national government bodies, as well as representation on international bodies such as the World Blind Union, EBU and IBSA, the International Blind Sports Federation.

Fundación ONCE

In 1988 ONCE established the foundation Fundación ONCE to provide professional training and employment, to eliminate architectural, urban and communication barriers and promote "Digital Solidarity", that is, web-based services for people with disabilities of any disability group. The Fundación also has its own business arm, Fundosa, with companies dealing with accessibility, industrial laundering, and so on. The Fundación is active in the Paralympic movement, and as a founding partner of ENAT, in accessible tourism.


CEOSA is the business corporation of ONCE and owns, or is a stakeholder in, several companies across a wide range of sectors, including service companies, hotels and food companies. In the 1980s, and in order to diversify risk, i.e., any future potential decrease in sales of the cupón, the managers of the then-affluent ONCE started a policy of profit-oriented investment. One of its acquisitions was a sizeable participation in the Spanish private TV channel Telecinco and the radio network Onda Cero ("Airwave Zero", based on the ONda CEro acronym). The most visible effect was the broadcast, on Telecinco, of the daily lottery draw, the Telecupón, presented by the highly popular retired actress Carmen Sevilla.

Critics pointed to the paradox of blind "upstarts" running one of the newly created commercial TV channels. There were also critics who claimed that it was a manoeuvre of the then-ruling party in government, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) to indirectly control the media in general.

Later management teams divested from Telecinco following a major judicial investigation into supposed tax dodges, etc. by the main shareholder, a company belonging to Silvio Berlusconi's Fininvest.

ONCE no longer has a stake in either of these two media companies, although it does still run a media company, Servimedia, which is a news agency specialising in providing information on issues of social interest, such as disability, integration, corporate social responsibility, leisure, etc.

The Cupón

Although ONCE now has several gaming products available, their traditional product and one of the most visible aspects of ONCE is the charity lottery ticket known throughout Spain as the "Cupón". Sales of this lottery product are the main source of income for ONCE and can carry huge tax-exempt cash prizes. The draw has different tickets for different days of the week, a special weekend ticket as well as special tickets with higher prizes, usually by season, Spring (Primavera), Summer (Verano) and so on. The draw is currently broadcast live every night on the Spanish television channel Cuatro.

The basic graphic designs on the cupón stay the same on each day, but the theme changes to correspond to current events, for example, when the Euro became legal tender, or cultural references such as national or local monuments, etc. Collecting old issues of the cupón has thus become a hobby for many cupón buyers in Spain.

Cupón Diario

The ONCE periodically introduces new products onto the market and the information below regarding the prices and prizes of ONCE products may not be up-to-date.

The Cupón Diario (Daily cupón) is drawn daily (Monday to Friday) and costs 1,00 euro. Prizes are broken down as follows:

  • 1,50€ prize for last or first numbers, 540,000 Prizes

How it works

The cupón is drawn as a 5-digit number and a Series Number. Prizes vary from how many of the 5 digits your cupón has, or the amount of numbers it has plus the Series number. The digits have to be in order to win, from left to right. The lowest prize is effectively a refund of 1,50€, that was used to purchase your ticket.

Where to buy

ONCE lottery tickets are sold on the streets by authorised cupón sellers, as well as in ONCE kiosks, which are clearly identified by the word "ONCE", and can be found along the high street, at airports, and in shopping malls. These points of sales employ the blind or partially-sighted, which is one of the main goals of ONCE, although by agreement with Fundación ONCE, over the last few years some have become available to persons with other disabilities.

Like Spain's National Lottery agency, ONCE does not sell its lottery products over internet, and both bodies continuously issue warnings to that effect, as there have recently been a series of scams involving international criminal organisations claiming to operate as authorised agencies of both lottery institutions. Major (tax-exempt) cash prizes are paid directly into bank accounts once the winner has established contact with the organisation through its delegations throughout Spain.

Likewise, in order to prevent attempts of fraudulent manipulation and counterfeiting, the cupón itself has a number of embedded security features of different kinds, such as optically variable devices, that are extremely difficult to reproduce. The cupón sellers, whether in the street or in kiosks, use electronic reading devices connected to the ONCE's database to check each winning number, as well as the authenticity of the cupón.


From 1989 until the end of the 2003 season, ONCE also sponsored one of the leading cycling teams. Whilst hugely successful in sporting terms and as a marketing vehicle, it was a costly project that was increasingly difficult to justify in terms of the ONCE's commitment to social integration of its members. The former directeur sportif, Manolo Saiz, went on to form the Liberty Seguros-Würth team.

See also

External links

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