Gambling reform advocates, including MPs, have called for an overhaul of the National Lottery – specifically in relation to the funding of good causes according to The Guardian.
The outlet has reported that politicians such as Sir Iain Duncan Smith have called for a fixed percentage of the National Lottery operator’s revenue to be directed towards civic causes.
With the Fourth National Lottery licence competition set to conclude this year, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) will decide which company will be granted the next 10-year licence to steward the lottery.
Current operator Camelot UK is currently facing competition from Allwyn – the UK holding of Sazka Group, which has now fully rebranded to the Allwyn corporate identity – as well as Italian firm Sisal and Northern & Shell Group.
A Camelot statement read: “Focusing solely on the amount generated for good causes in percentage terms paints a deliberately misleading and damaging picture of the health of the national lottery.
“By making the national lottery more attractive and generous to players, we’re delivering record sales, prize money and payments in lottery duty to the Treasury. Annual returns to good causes are now over £500 million higher than they were at the start of this licence, even though the percentage rate of return is lower.”
As reported by the Guardian, Camelot directed 28% of its funding to good causes in the year ending 31 March 2010, but since then the proposition has fallen to under 23%, although the firm maintains that a rise in annual revenues from £5.5 billion to £8.4 billion has resulted in the amount paid to good causes also growing.
Despite this, the company has faced some criticism for its good causes funding in recent months, with Olympic athletes – who are meant to be some of the primary beneficiaries of the National Lottery’s financial support – sharing their views to the DCMS.
Swimmer Adam Peaty MBE and Ellie Robinson and Paralympic rower Lauren Rowles served as witnesses to a DCMS Select Committee on National Lottery funding, with Peaty in particular questioning whether the athletes were funded to make Camelot ‘look good’.
Commenting on good causes funding, Duncan Smith said: “There should be a fixed percentage on the amount that goes to good causes. The operator is beginning to look like any other gambling company.”
Additionally, the Lottery has also faced criticism for provision of instant games such as Red Hot 7s and Mega Cash Showdown, which pay-out less to good causes whilst also raising concerns relating to gambling addiction.
Around 31% of lottery revenue from draw-based games is given to good causes, whilst instant-win games direct 12% and scratchcards 9%, although the UKGC itself has noted that this was due to higher prize payouts, which are “necessary to drive the optimal level of sales of these products”.