Camelot under fire in web forum

An online debate launched by National Lottery operator Camelot over how to fulfil its objective of socially responsible fundraising has sparked criticism of the company and its core objectives.

In the email discussion, part of Camelot's annual social report, the company stated: "Our primary objective is to maximise returns to good causes in a socially responsible way" and asked participants how this can best be achieved.

The forum asked questions such as "where does ultimate responsibility for protecting the vulnerable lie - with government, with Camelot, with retailers or with individual players themselves?"

The lottery is accused by some critics of taking from the poor to give to the needy. The breakdown of ticket-buyers shows a bias towards the C2DE social groups.

One response stated: "The concept of a socially responsible Camelot is a whitewash. It is a contradiction in terms.

"We seem to be forgetting that the National Lottery takes money from the poorest in the country and gives it to the rich - namely Camelot's shareholders."

Camelot has five major shareholders but its mandate requires it to engage with stakeholders including the public, employees, retailers, suppliers and pressure groups.

A Camelot spokesman said the response to the consultation had been overwhelmingly positive, and that the company led the field in the gambling sector for ensuring its products did not appeal to under-16s or vulnerable groups.

NCH's fundraising executive Sam Thomas defended Camelot in the debate: "Camelot should be applauded for its responsible approach to the lottery - what needs to change is the media's approach to reporting the more controversial good causes. While newspapers focus on specific examples that fit their agenda, it will be difficult to generate positive feelings about the lottery."

But another participant told the company: "It appears that stakeholder engagement, donations and community involvement per se ensures fulfilment of your corporate responsibilities. However, your approach lacks vision as well as a relevant and sustainable impact."

Camelot says its distribution of good cause funds is the most efficient compared to other national lotteries. Half of the money raised by the lottery goes to prizes, 40 per cent to good causes and the lottery duty, and 0.5 per cent to shareholders.

Camelot chief executive Dianne Thompson said: "Stakeholder consultation is at the heart of our approach to social responsibility and we are continuously working to improve the quality of our consultation."

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