Camelot accused

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The Independent Online
NATIONAL Lottery operator Camelot faces a fresh row over allegations that its sales reps are pressuring retailers into removing rival charity scratchcards, in defiance of government guarantees.

UK Charity Lotteries, which sells the Lukcy (sic) scratchcards, will this week write to Camelot asking it to investigate its sales force in north London, where up to 300 outlets, mainly grocers and newsagents, have stopped stocking Lukcy cards.

"Yes, there have been instances lately of Camelot reps putting pressure on retailers to maximise their targets of National Lottery tickets," said Andrew Slamin, UKCL's sales and marketing director. "A large number of retailers were cancelling our cards as a result, contrary to government policy to encourage sales of both."

Pools firm Littlewoods, which runs cards for 56 charities including Age Concern, also said it had been affected.

"We have been aware of instances where this has happened, but where it has we have made the shopkeeper aware of the legal position," a spokes- man said.

National Lottery Instants have captured more than 90 per cent of the pounds 25m a week scratchcard market since their launch last March and have helped boost charity card sales in the process.

Charities are, however, critical of Peter Davis, head of regulator Oflot, for allowing Cam- elot to pay 55 per cent of income in prizes on cards and only 45 per cent on the TV game, instead of 50 per cent across the board.

With their donations hit hard by the TV lottery's success, they also fear pushy Camelot reps may hurt card income when they are spending heavily on new promotions.

Last week UKCL - which is owned by Rehab, a vocational training charity for the disabled - launched a pounds 10m advertising campaign in the press and on TV for its new "Lady Luck" cards, to compete head on with Instants.

Meanwhile, Camelot, which is headed by Sir George Russell, denies its 80-strong sales force has specific sales targets, and a spokeswoman said that any complaints would be investigated.