OPINION: Thinkpiece - Price to pay for a daily lottery is just too high

Camelot is considering a daily draw in a bid to halt falling ticket sales. But The Salvation Army is concerned about the potential effect on those who cannot afford to play.

A daily lottery draw could hit some of the most vulnerable people in society who are hooked on the concept of winning a million but whose budgets will not stretch the extra distance. Playing the two weekly draws will cost you a minimum of £2, or £104 per year, but if the draw becomes daily, it will set you back £7 or £364 per year. And that's only if you play one set of numbers.

This is a significant increase for a family coping on a small budget and those people playing in syndicates may feel pressured to pay more so as not to miss out. Research by leading academics, published in Addiction Research, indicates that lower income groups are more vulnerable to overspending on scratch cards and lottery tickets.

There seems little evidence of public demand for a daily draw, so is it only Camelot driving this to encourage more gambling and boost ticket sales? We along with others are particularly concerned that young people should not be over-exposed to a growing gambling culture. Yes, there are benefits for good causes, but by far the most effective way of giving to charity is simply to donate directly. Because of our stance on gambling, the Salvation Army does not seek funding from the National Lottery, relying instead on funding from the general public, trusts and, where appropriate, local and central government grants.

The Salvation Army runs 50 homeless centres in the UK housing around 3,000 people. While there is no proven link between the lottery and serial gambling, many of our clients would cite a gambling addiction as one of the major drains on their resources, all too often leading to house repossession and relationships breaking down.

We have written to the chair of the National Lottery Commission, Harriet Spicer, urging her not to give the green light to a daily lottery. If ticket sales are flagging, could it not simply be that people are no longer sucked in by the promise of a million. So why should vulnerable people, who believe this is their only chance of happiness, pay the price, particularly when Camelot's own chief executive has admitted you'd be lucky to win a tenner?

MAJOR BILL COCHRANE, The Salvation Army

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