Effect of raising society lottery limits questioned

At an event hosted by the People's Postcode Lottery at the Conservative conference, Karl Wilding asks the panel if the move would benefit only the bigger lotteries

Raising the limit of the value of tickets society lotteries can sell for each individual draw could risk pushing smaller organisations out of the market, delegates at the Conservative Party conference have heard.

At a fringe event organised by the People’s Postcode Lottery in Birmingham this morning, Karl Wilding, director of public policy and volunteering at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, asked the panel whether a move to allow society lotteries to generate more money from individual draws would benefit only the bigger lotteries such as the PPL.

The government is consulting on proposed changes to the rules for society lotteries, which currently limits them to £4m of sales per draw, £10m of sales a year and a maximum prize of £400,000.

The proposed new rules could raise the per-draw limit to £5m, increase the maximum ticket value to £100m a year and increase the maximum prize money to £500,000.

But the PPL wants to see the per-draw limit raised to £10m, a call that has also been made by the Institute of Fundraising.

Clara Govier, managing director of the PPL, said the existing limits restricted the funding available to charities, increased administration costs and resulted in an overly complicated fundraising model.

The limits were put in place to prevent society lotteries from competing with the National Lottery. But Govier said it was still protected because it was able to offer much larger prizes and society lottery funding often complemented National Lottery funding.

Wilding said the NCVO had supported the government proposals, but with "some concerns", and asked what impact lifting the limit would have on smaller society lotteries, run by smaller charities.

"Is there a risk that essentially you’re going to take some of their market share, rather than grow the market?" he asked. He also questioned whether reduced administration costs would lead to more money being passed on to charities.

Govier said lottery participation was emotionally driven, with some people choosing to play the PPL because they liked the idea of being able to support multiple causes, while some wanted to support charities with which they had a direct personal connection – for example, local hospices, many of which fundraised through running their own lotteries.

"I not necessarily either/or," she said. "It’s about that individual and their decision based on the emotional connections there."

She said the PPL gave 32 per cent of its income to good causes – above the legal minimum of 20 per cent – but its aim was to increase this to 40 per cent.

But she said that would depend on market conditions and sthe economies of scale the PPL was able to achieve, so she was unable to give a timescale for when this aim would be achieved.

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