The Importance of Mars Bars and Toilet Duck to Lottery Players

As the wait continues for the release of the White Paper concerning reform of the gambling laws in the UK, what is the position regarding lotteries?

Nowhere near as much as attention seems to be paid towards them, but a meeting in Parliament did raise the subject. The question is though, how did Mars bars and Toilet Duck get mentioned?

The discussion took place in a meeting of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) Committee. Chris Philp was being questioned by the committee. One of his last appearances before his resignation from government.

Philp was asked what the assessment of the government was regarding the gambling harms for playing the National Lottery. Mr. Philp replied that the figures for gambling harm were lower than other forms of gambling though it was a very popular purchase for gamblers. However, they wanted to see gambling on lotteries “done safely.”

Next came questioning from Kevin Brennan (Labour MP for Cardiff West) on whether credit cards can be used to make lottery purchases. It’s no longer possible to use a credit card to make deposits into online gambling sites. That was a fact Mr Brennan was well aware of when asking the Tory MP: “It’s a simple word you’re looking for and it’s got three letters in it, can you say it? It begins with y and it ends with s and it has an e in the middle.”

He added that now it had been confirmed how popular the National Lottery is with gamblers, can credit cards be used to make purchases? The reply received was that if buying a lottery ticket/scratchcard a credit card shouldn’t be used. However, “if you are buying a basket of goods, like you are doing your weekly shopping – £100 (those were the days)– and there’s a lottery ticket in there then you would be able to,”

In reply, Mr. Brennan said “I accept the answer then should have been yes – as long as you buy a Mars bar. That’s what your answer is, basically, isn’t it?”

The conversation became even more farcical as the Tory MP replied: “Well, I honestly don’t know what the rules are about whether one Mars bar’s enough or whether you need to buy a loo roll and some toilet duck as well.”

No wonder that Mr. Brennan thought the discussion had entered the “realms of surrealism.” The soon to be former minister concluded that it was just practical for customers not to have to separate their shopping if it included a lottery purchase. Surely, having separate tills for lottery purchases and then insisting no credit cards are used is the answer or is that too logical?

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