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