The amount of money given to good causes by the National Lottery in the first quarter of this financial year fell by more than £83m on last year.
Figures published by the Gambling Commission, which regulates the lottery, show that in April to June this year good causes received £368.3m from National Lottery ticket sales, a fall of 18.5 per cent compared with the £451.7m received in the same period last year.
The figure for April to June this year also represents a £195.2m (34.6 per cent) fall on the preceding quarter, during which £563.5m was paid out to good causes.
Last financial year, the National Lottery passed on a total of £1.9bn to charities, making it the highest amount raised in any year apart from 2012, when a EuroMillions draw on the eve of the London Olympics bumped the amount raised to £1.95bn over the course of the year.
A spokeswoman for the lottery operator Camelot said: "National Lottery sales – and therefore returns to good causes – can fluctuate in any given period based on a multitude of factors, including the number of draws in the period, the jackpots on offer, the mix of games sold, the channels through which they are sold and the level of unclaimed prizes."
She said the sales in quarter four of the last financial year had been "record breaking", which explained why the figure for quarter one was lower by comparison. But she did not comment on why the sales for quarter one this year were down against the same period last year.
She said that in quarter four of 2015/16 "a record £66m ‘must-be-won’ Lotto jackpot in January generated huge player excitement and saw a sales frenzy".
She added: "There were also fewer draws in Q1 – due to the period being shorter – and fewer large EuroMillions jackpots on offer."