Concerns over Amount National Lottery Gives to Good Causes

Amount National Lottery Gives to Good Causes

A decision on who will be granted the next ten-year National Lottery license is expected in February. The Gambling Commission decision comes at a time when there are MPs and other campaigners who are becoming critical of how present license holders Camelot are running the lottery.

Since the National Lottery began in 1994, it’s been Camelot who have been the license holder. 6,300 millionaires have been created but there is another side to the lottery. That’s the amount raised for good causes and £43 billion has gone in that direction.

However, the proportion of revenues going to good causes has fallen recently. Those critical of the situation also fear that the online games and scratchcards that can be played are creating problem gamblers.

The scratchcards have become a way of getting a life-changing win. Some have prizes that can get as high as £1 million. Scratchcards were launched the year after the National Lottery began. Their sales in stores and online are now 44% of total revenue.

Whereas around 31% of income from draw-based games such as Lotto and Set for Life are given to good causes, that’s not the case with scratchcards. Approximately 9% of scratchcard revenue goes to good causes and it’s 12% for online instant-win games. It seems with these games; the big prizes are there to increase sales.

The Gambling Commission have said that the games gave less to good causes because of the higher payouts. Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith is concerned about the situation. He’s the vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on gambling-related harm.

His view is that there should be a “fixed percentage on the amount that goes to good causes.” Without this being in place, he believes that the National Lottery is “beginning to look like any other gambling company.”

There has been a fall in the amount of revenue Camelot distributes to good causes. In the year to 31 March 2010, it was 38% but the most recent figures have seen that drop to less than 23%. Camelot’s view is that although the percentage has fallen, the actual amount given has increased. This is due to revenue increasing by £3.1 billion in that period.

The fear is that it’s the scratchcards and online instant-win games that can lead to problem gambling. That’s a view backed up by Heather Wardle, who is a gambling research expert from Glasgow University. She believes that players tend to gamble less on lottery draws as time goes by. However, the scratchcards are “more risky” and companies tend to rely on them more for sales
Charles Ritchie is one of the founders of the charity Gambling With Lives. He sees the online games as often being “no different to online casino games and slots that are incredibly addictive and harmful to mental health. He helped found the charity after losing his son Jack to a gambling-related suicide.

Camelot insist that their products are very different from those seen at online gambling sites. They added that “rigorous controls” ensure their games are “safe and enjoyable for players.”