Government 'needs more evidence' before changing lottery rules

Heritage minister John Penrose responds to criticisms of Richard Desmond's Health Lottery

Tourism and heritage minister John Penrose
Tourism and heritage minister John Penrose

The government has told the National Council for Voluntary Organisations that it will monitor the Health Lottery carefully but needs more evidence about its impact before deciding whether to change the regulation of society lotteries.

The Health Lottery, launched by the media owner Richard Desmond in September, has caused controversy because 20p of every £1 spent on tickets – the minimum legal requirement – goes to good causes, compared with about 28p from the sale of a £1 National Lottery ticket.

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, wrote to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to raise concerns about the Health Lottery and suggest that the minimum proportion of lottery proceeds that goes to good causes should be increased from 20 per cent to 28 per cent.

John Penrose, the Minister for Tourism and Heritage, wrote back to say the department would be working with the Gambling Commission and the National Lottery Commission to consider the questions raised, and ensuring that the Health Lottery's introduction into the market was carefully monitored.

"As I’m sure you understand, we will need more evidence about the real-world impact of the Health Lottery before deciding whether to look at society lottery regulation, but I will keep you informed of progress," he wrote.

Ben Kernighan, deputy chief executive of the NCVO, said it was pleased the government would be monitoring the Health Lottery. His next step would be to ask the government to consult on the minimum proportion of lottery proceeds that should go to good causes and push for it to be increased from the current 20 per cent.

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