Camelot's charity stays at home

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The Independent Culture
Camelot has refused to give an additional portion of its "unanticipated profits" to charity following the success of the lottery, despite recommendations by the National Heritage Committee.

The committee concluded in its report on the running of the National Lottery yesterday that because the public was buying far more lottery tickets than anyone had forecast, Camelot, which is making around pounds 1m profit a week from the game, should donate a generous chunk to charities.

Gerald Kaufman, chairman of the committee, said: "We left it imprecise hoping Camelot's good nature will make it as much as possible. We are looking for a substantial sum of money. Since this lottery is doing twice as well as anybody expected, Camelot ought to be nice and generous."

The lottery, launched in 1994, is played by around 30 million people a week. In "double- rollover" weeks, when the jackpot can reach record levels, nearly every adult in the land takes part. A further estimated 10 million people buy up to 20 million scratchcards each week.

However, Camelot said yesterday it had no intention of giving more money to charity.A spokeswoman said: "We already are giving away a considerable amount of our profit to charity and ... we have already become a major corporate donor. Last year we committed over pounds 500,000 to charity and community projects."

Camelot has come under increased scrutiny over lottery profits, which have been described as an embarrassment of riches by the company's critics; its after-tax profit works out at 1 per cent of every sale.

The rest of the money is divided between prizes, at 50 per cent; good causes, 28 per cent; lottery duty, 12 per cent; retailer commission, 5 per cent; and a further 4 per cent for Camelot's costs. Over Camelot's seven-year licence sales are expected to top pounds 32bn.

John Major praised the "great success" of the National Lottery yesterday, and told MPs he was glad the report contradicted fears that charitable donations would fall.

"It is undoubtedly a huge success and is raising huge sums of money for good causes," he said. "What I am particularly pleased to note is that fears expressed by so many people some months ago that charitable donations would fall are now shown to be wrong."