Law on lotteries under review that could make Richard Desmond’s Health Lottery give more to charity

Ministers order consultation amid questions over amount given to good causes

Ministers have ordered a review of the laws on lotteries amid concern about the amount of money Richard Desmond’s Health Lottery pays to good causes.

The Government confirmed this week that a consultation on “society lotteries” – promoted nationally by the Health Lottery – will be held in coming months.

The Culture Secretary Maria Miller made the move amid speculation about the sales impact of Mr Desmond’s scheme on the National Lottery and the amount of money raised for good causes.

Until 16 months ago, the National Lottery – whose operator Camelot Group is owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund – enjoyed a monopoly on nationally-marketed prize draws.

In October 2011, Mr Desmond, whose other interests include the Daily Express, Channel 5 and the Television X pornography channel, launched the Health Lottery, which manages and administers UK prize draws on behalf of a collection of 51 smaller “society lotteries”. There is little difference between the two games. For £1 customers choose six numbers between 1 and 50 and check them against a twice-weekly televised draw.

However unlike the National Lottery, which gives 28 per cent of ticket sales to good causes, the Health Lottery legally contributes only 20 per cent.

The Health Lottery pays the lower rate because different rules apply to “society lotteries”, which have traditionally operated on a local basis.

Last summer the National Council for Voluntary Organisations expressed concern about the issue, telling the Department of Culture, Media and Sport: “It is of great importance that the Health Lottery does not set a dangerously low precedent of reducing the acceptable levels of lottery funds that must go to charity.”

However the Health Lottery has supporters in the third sector, such as Joe Saxton, founder of the research firm NpfSynergy, who chaired a recent meeting of charities.  He said: “There was complete agreement that any increase would mean less money is raised for charities. The reason for this is simple. If you increased the minimum from the current 20 per cent to say 40 per cent all the current lotteries that have a 20 per cent or 25 per cent or 30 per cent profit will have to stop functioning, so that money will be lost.”

The National Lottery has claimed it is losing sales of £1m a week to Mr Desmond’s scheme, but lost a landmark legal challenge last August. The High Court said that the issue of whether multiple society lotteries should be permitted was “a political question” for ministers.

In research commissioned by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and released late last year, NERA Economic Consulting estimated that the Health Lottery was costing Camelot between £40,000 and £305,000 a week in lost sales. However it said that the total amount going to good causes was likely to be higher as a result of Mr Desmond’s scheme.

Announcing a consultation in December, the Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, said: “Lotteries are hugely important in raising very large amounts  of money for charities and community groups up and down the country. But with a changing market it is right that we make sure that the main priority for each and every lottery is to raise money for good causes.”

A spokeswoman for Mr Desmond’s company Northern & Shell said the Health Lottery had raised £29m for charities. She said: “Camelot is over a hundred times the size of the Health Lottery, is a protected monopoly and has delivered record sales and profits for its Canadian owners.

“It controls more than 99 per cent of the UK lottery market, so there is really no viable comparison with the Health Lottery.

“The argument should not be about the percentage but about how to maximize the total contribution that society lotteries like the Health Lottery are able to make.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'