Lottery firm taps charities for cash

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The Independent Online

Chariot, the troubled group behind the Monday lottery, is quadrupling the amount it charges its charity partners to try to ease its cash flow crisis.

The move is a temporary measure for the next 12 months in its quest to stay afloat after burning through £15m of shareholders' money within weeks of listing on AIM. Last month Chariot raised £2.6m in an emergency cash call and said it would tap its 70 charity partners for more money.

Peter Jones, Chariot's chairman, who invested £250,000 in the fundraising, has asked the charities to "sacrifice" the money while Monday reinvents itself as an online lottery.

In return for getting 30p in every £1 played by punters, charities must pay 7.8p, a 6p increase on the amount agreed at the launch of Monday. So far, 62 of Chariot's 70 charity partners have said they will back the new terms, which include extending their contracts to three years from two and temporarily decreasing the administrative fee per game to £500 from £750.

Mr Jones said Chariot would repay the money once it was back on its feet. He said the amount of his own money he invested was a "demonstration of my confidence" in the company. Several lottery experts are sceptical about Chariot's prospects. Chariot has missed all of the targets set at its launch. It has just 200,000 registered players, of which barely one-third play regularly. This compares with its initial hopes of selling 10 million tickets a week.

Mr Jones took control of Chariot from Tim Holley, who made his name launching the National Lottery for Camelot but was forced out of Chariot after the group's dismal performance. The company's shares, which listed at 115p in February, closed at 5.25p, down from 5.37p.

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