Possible £17m lottery win fires up MPs

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The Independent Online
Concern was growing yesterday about the prospect of another £17m sum being won by one individual this weekend in the National Lottery after last Saturday's guaranteed £10m jackpot went unclaimed.

The £10m was guaranteed by the lottery operator, Camelot, in its first "Superdraw". As no one matched all six winning numbers, the entire amount rolls over to be added to next week's top prize.

It was a similar process that led to a jackpot of £17.8m being won by a family from Blackburn last month. Their identification by the media against their wishes prompted a government review.

Yesterday MPs spoke against the extremely high jackpots created by the rollover mechanism. Lottery rules allow jackpots to be rolled over a total of three times, which could create a top prize of more than £25m.

Chris Smith, Labour's spoke-sman on heritage, said he would like a ceiling of £3m-£4m placed on the amount that could be won by one individual who scooped the jackpot.

"We need to see how this week pans out. If there are a number of winners sharing the jackpot, I don't think there is any problem," he said.

"If, however, we have a single winner getting £17m or £18m, it probably would have been better if a substantial slice of the jackpot had been spread more widely among the runners-up, say those who matched five numbers and the bonus."

Mark Fisher, Labour's spokesman on arts, agreed. "When the rollover happened before Christmas, people who were said to be mathematically sophisticated said it would be very unlikely to happen again. It has, almost instantly," he pointed out.

Joe Benton, Labour MP for Bootle, said many of his constituents had expressed their concern at the extremely high jackpots resulting from roll-overs.

"Personally, I feel it's crazy having jackpots rolling over like this. Even £10m is quite honestly far too much.

"It would be far better if it was spread around to give more people a chance of winning something."

Mike Critchley, a manager for Barclays Bank who advises Littlewoods pools winners, said the maximum pools win had been £2.9m.

"Jackpots of £17m are ridiculous," he added. "It's a nonsense if it's won by one person. The family who won last month in Blackburn obviously had children.

"If it was me, I'd be frightened for the effect on them. Also the rules regarding inheritance tax would create horrendous problems for the next-of-kin."

However, David Rigg, communications director of Camelot, said that the odds of a large jackpot being won again by one person rather than several were "relatively remote".

"The jackpot might roll over three times once in two years. What I do know is that large jackpots generate increased sales which generate money for good causes," he added.

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