Letter: The national lottery: charitable uses for the money

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article's assertion that only a 'churlish fool' would not be cheered by the publication of the National Lottery Bill ('A flutter for the nation', 18 December) cannot go unchallenged. Although money raised from the lottery will go to many worthy causes, I would like to make the following points.

The Government's current policy towards gambling is that it should not be stimulated in any form. Since the national lottery will benefit from high-profile advertising (television, for example), this will clearly contravene the Government's own policy.

A lottery is a form of gambling, although most people seem to view it as harmless. This may be so for a majority of people, but in countries where lotteries are well established (the United States, Spain, the Netherlands and others) there are now increasing numbers of 'compulsive' lottery gamblers seeking professional help. For some people (a small but significant minority), lottery gambling causes as many problems as other forms of gambling.

Since the national lottery is now going to go ahead, the Government should consider giving priority funding to those charities and organisations which provide advice, counselling and treatment for people with severe gambling problems.

I hope that these issues will continued to be discussed in any future debates concerning the national lottery.

Yours faithfully,

MARK GRIFFITHS

Department of Psychology

University of Plymouth

18 December

The writer is a trustee of the National Council on Gambling and of the UK Forum on Young People and Gambling.

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