Opinion: Back to the future with the National Lottery

Nick Cater, a consultant and writer: catercharity@yahoo.co.uk

A confidential memo from a National Lottery political adviser following Camelot's reappointment in 2009 has been leaked to Third Sector a little early.

I'm delighted to read that the Big Lottery Fund has again found, as it did in 2006, that it has never broken its additionality rules by, say, giving millions to libraries and other luxuries unfit for subsidy.

The memo continues: "The lottery is an ideal way to let us off the public services hook. Additionality means funds aren't wasted on books - generation iPod is illiterate anyway - but divert attention with new uses for old libraries. Neat?

"Additionality ensures the lottery spending role expands as the Government cuts back to meet the £250bn cost of private finance initiative schools and hospitals. But lottery sales growth faces several challenges.

"Challenge 1: age limits. Thankfully, under-age buyers often get through, but surely a lower limit and a childhood of gambling, risk and penury is a perfect introduction to capitalism. And don't tell anyone, but pocket money gambling will cut kids' intake of drink, drugs, sweets, cigarettes and fast food. Who says the lottery lacks a conscience?

"Challenge 2: extra addiction. We must cultivate the lottery habit by selling tickets amid other addictive behaviour - from pubs and betting shops to porn joints. Sleaze is the new black. Incidentally, the new location for the live TV lottery show will be Prescott's Prizerama Cowboy Casino and Chip Shop, once known as the Dome.

"Challenge 3: eliminating resistance. Some don't even buy NHS scratch cards (that scabies outbreak made the saying 'a scratch a day keeps dermatology unit closures away' so appropriate). Answer: forced purchase. Compulsion will also stop those critics yet to fall foul of the Lottery Apostasy Act from highlighting unfair taxation of the poor via the lottery to pay for opera and other charitable habits of the rich.

"Challenge 4: dodgy grants. Dianne Thompson, chief executive of Camelot, was quoted in Saga magazine back in 2006 saying 'our players don't know the massive raft of positive things that have happened with lottery money'.

The article implied they did not know about controversial grants to asylum seeker groups. Logical conclusion: phone-vote lottery TV show to fund police units rounding up the homeless, single mothers and other deviants.

"Meanwhile, it's rebranding time. What about: 'Take A Chance With Public Services', or 'It's All (OK, Only 28 Per Cent) in a Good Cause'?"

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