Sir: The survey conducted by Children's Express ("Shopkeepers break ban on child gamblers", 25 May) is highly significant. Furthermore, the reported response of David Rigg of Camelot is rather disingenuous.
Throughout its short life, the National Lottery has been associated with massive stimulation of demand. Rather than being a form of entertainment, it has been promoted as a likely way of becoming rich. Although the controlling legislation prohibits the purchasing of Lottery tickets by children, nevertheless they have been involved in much of the publicity about it. Children have appeared in the television commercials for the Lottery, and many children are in the live audience at the time of the draw, which, in any case, occurs well before the 9pm watershed.
The National Council on Gambling drew attention to these aspects last January in its submission concerning the National Lottery to the House of Commons National Heritage Committee. They are a contravention of the promoter's Advertising Code of Practice, certainly against the spirit of the controlling legislation and even seem to be a breach of it. Yet nothing has been done to rectify the situation.
The impact of this is demonstrated by the television viewing figures for 4- to 15-year-old children given in the spring 1995 issue of Spectrum, a magazine published by the Independent Television Commission. Among all children, the National Lottery came third of all programmes, with 37 per cent watching it. As far as boys (all ages) were concerned, it came second, with 41 per cent watching. In the 10 to 15 age group (both sexes), it came second, with 38 per cent watching.
One cannot involve children in the promotion of the National Lottery and then complain about their participation in it. This is particularly so if the habit-forming qualities of gambling are used to maximise the turnover of the Lottery.
National Council on Gambling