EDITORIAL: Camelot mustn't meddle in lottery grant allocation

STOVIN HAYTER

In August the Home Secretary David Blunkett forced the Community Fund to suspend the grant of a charity that helps asylum seekers, all because he was stung by an article in the Daily Mail. And as if that wasn't enough, the Lottery operator Camelot has now decided to have a go as well, not for political but for commercial reasons.

Camelot is blaming a loss in ticket sales on the negative publicity from the Community Fund's support of charities that help asylum seekers.

This is strange, since Camelot has tried for years to play down any strong link between the funding to good causes and the sale of lottery tickets.

But all of a sudden the press reports about "one particular lottery grant

have, according to Camelot, managed to dent ticket sales by £500,000.

Is Camelot saying that only those popular causes that make people feel warm about buying a lottery ticket should be supported? In other words, those which are commercially beneficial to Camelot? Or could it be clutching at any excuse to explain the failure of its much trumpeted relaunch as the "People's Lottery"?

Whatever the case, it should make us all the more wary of Camelot's proposal, as part of the current DCMS consultation on the future of the lottery, that a single body undertake marketing on behalf of all five distribution boards. And any suggestion that Camelot has a place on this body should be resisted tooth and nail.

Apart from the impropriety of Camelot's statement, it is self-destructive.

First its chief executive Diane Thompson told people they stood next to no chance of winning anything on the Lottery. Does she now imagine that people will be more inclined to buy tickets if they learn that her company wants a say in which causes benefit?

It is not just good causes that benefit from the Lottery. The Lottery benefits from its association with good causes. And that benefit is not in ticket sales but legitimacy.

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