Letter: Lottery children

THE WAY in which the participation of children in the National Lottery is being dealt with lacks credibility. ("Camelot told : stop sales to children", 27 February).

Although it is illegal for children to buy tickets, they have been involved in the promotion of the lottery, from its inception. Thus, children appeared in the initial television advertisements and were in the studio audience of the live draw, which was and still is broadcast before the 9pm watershed. Not surprisingly, audience research showed that the live draw is one of the most popular programmes with children.

In 1995, the National Council on Gambling complained to the Broadcasting Standards Council about this situation. Attention was drawn to a survey I conducted in an inner-city school which was reported in the British Medical Journal. This showed that nearly two-thirds of children admitted to purchasing lottery tickets. The National Heritage Department, Oflot and the BBC chose to dismiss the significance of the points raised.

There is now a need for fundamental changes in the manner the lottery is promoted. As a first step, the proposed new television scratchcard show should be cancelled.


Consultant Psychiatrist

Chairman, The National Council on Gambling

London N14