Funds raised for good causes by the National Lottery have fallen by about £160m in the first three quarters of 2016/17 compared with the same period last year, figures from the Gambling Commission show.
Data on the amount of money passed to the National Lottery Distribution Fund, which gives good-cause money raised by the lottery to other distributors, including the Big Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, shows that £431m was raised for good causes in October to December last year, compared with £466.1m in the same period in 2015.
This means that £1.2bn has been raised for good causes through the National Lottery in the first three quarters of 2016/17, compared with £1.36bn at the same stage in the previous year.
The Gambling Commission said the main reasons for the difference in sales in the third quarter included lower returns from the main Lotto game because, although sales had been comparable, there was a higher average prize payout during the quarter than in 2015.
A spokeswoman for Camelot, which operates the National Lottery, said: "Sales – and therefore returns to good causes – do fluctuate from time to time but, as Third Sector reported back in November, we faced a challenging start to the year, particularly in comparison with our record-breaking performance in 2015/16.
"At the time, we said the climate of economic uncertainty and signs that consumers were being more cautious with their spending – as well as the direct, often aggressive competition we’re facing from the wider gambling sector – meant that we expected the second six months to be similarly challenging.
"Despite that proving to be the case, we’ve been doing everything we can to add to the £30m-plus we deliver to good causes every week, starting with EuroMillions, where we’ve seen sales boosted by the innovative changes we made in September."
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