Pools giant joins scratchcard war

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A new scratchcard war begins today as the pools giant Littlewoods hits back at the National Lottery by launching its own scratchcard games to raise money for charity.

Three different Littlewoods scratchcard games will operate in each of seven British regions, with every game offering a total of a million tickets.Voluntary organisations will benefit by up to pounds 240,000 from each game, 24p from each ticket sold, and each game will be dedicated to a particular charity. The new cards will be on sale alongside lottery scratchcards in shops, post offices and petrol stations.

The cards offer a maximum prize of pounds 50,000 and Littlewoods hopes to make up to 3p profit from every ticket sold. "Our scratchcards are a simple and fast way for charities to benefit from people who simply want to have a flutter," said Littlewoods' marketing director Tony Hillyer. "This is the first game in which players know they can directly help someone else." Littlewoods hopes to start handing funds over to charities early in the New Year.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations welcomed the idea but doubted whether it would bring in "new" money. "Giving 24p to charity is good - that's more than the lottery scratchcards - I like the idea of named charities," said its chief executive Stuart Etherington. He added that the "scratchcard wars" were probably just moving the same money around, and that the best way to help was still to give direct.

Littlewoods has complained about "unfair" competition from the lottery and, in August, announced that it was shedding 520 jobs from its 3,400 workforce as a result of the lottery's success in attracting punters away from the pools.