Fundraising News: Gambling Bill may benefit sector

Indira Das-Gupta

The draft Gambling Bill, universally condemned by charities, may actually generate an unexpected windfall for the sector, thanks to a clause that will encourage many competition organisers to seek lottery status.

Included in the draft Bill is a proposal which will render all simple quiz competitions in magazines, on television, online and through direct mail, illegal.

Media companies that invite consumers to take part in the quizzes by calling or texting premium-rate numbers will be forced to apply for full lottery status if they wish to continue to run such competitions. This would mean that 20 per cent of all revenue raised from the quizzes would have to go to charity.

The chief executive of regional and text-message lottery operator Million-2-1, Chris Sheffield, anticipates that the legislation would have the effect of boosting good-cause money as media owners would be reluctant to forego the substantial profits they generate through the competitions.

"Faced with a choice between losing all their revenue, losing a significant proportion of potential customers, or donating 20 per cent to good causes, most organisations would see the value of taking the responsible approach and designing new forums of promotion for the benefit of customers," said Sheffield.

The draft Gambling Bill has sparked widespread controversy, with 29 Labour backbenchers voting against it. Critics argue that the bill, which will allow "super casinos" with up to 1,250 slot machines offering unlimited prizes, could lead to an increase in the levels of gambling addiction in the UK.

But Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell insists the bill would help to protect the weak and the vulnerable through better regulation.

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