Health Lottery stops selling tickets in 10,000 retail outlets, society lotteries inquiry hears

Donald Macrae, a director of the Health Lottery community interest companies, tells MPs that the lottery has not proved to be a commercially attractive model

Health Lottery
Health Lottery

The Health Lottery has withdrawn from selling its tickets in 10,000 retail outlets across the country and is unlikely to continue selling scratchcards after a pilot scheme failed, according to its promoter.

Donald Macrae, a director of the Health Lottery community interest companies who advises them on regulatory compliance, was giving evidence at a House of Commons Culture, Media & Sport Committee hearing on society lotteries on Tuesday.

Macrae said that the Health Lottery, which was set up by the owner of the Daily Express, Richard Desmond, and manages 51 society lotteries working under the Health Lottery brand to raise money for local health charities, ended its relationship with the retail outlets "in order to make the network more efficient".

He said the Health Lottery was still selling tickets in almost 33,000 shops.

Macrae said that the Health Lottery operated at a significant loss and "had not proved to be a commercially attractive model at all".

Asked by the committee’s chair, John Whittingdale, if the Health Lottery would be launching scratchcards soon, Macrae said that this was unlikely. "We have been running a pilot on scratchcards with WHSmith: I don’t want to give too much away in terms of commercial sensitivity, but it’s not looking good," he said.

A spokesman for the Health Lottery CICs said after the hearing that the Health Lottery had pulled out in the past few weeks from small independent retailers that were selling very few tickets. He said they represented a tiny proportion of overall sales.

"This is about making sure we’ve got an appropriate network of retailers who are doing a good job promoting the society lotteries on our behalf," he said.

He said it did not necessarily indicate there was little demand for Health Lottery tickets and it was important to make sure that retailers that were not making sales were unable to continue selling tickets.

He declined to say how many sales the scratchcard pilot had generated.

The Health Lottery was launched in 2011 with the aim of generating £50m a year for charities working to improve health equality in Britain. It raised about £24.2m for good causes in its first year.

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