National Lottery achieves surprise rise in funds for good causes in 2017/18

Operator Camelot says the lottery raised £1.66bn for good causes in the year to the end of March 2018, an unexpected rise on the previous 12 months

- This story has been updated; please see final paragraph

Funds for good causes from the National Lottery surprisingly increased by more than £27m in 2017/18 compared with the previous year, the latest figures show.

Data from the lottery operator Camelot, published today, shows that the game generated £1.66bn for good causes in the year to the end of March 2018, an increase of £27.3m on the previous year. 

Camelot said it had been expecting to report a fall in ticket sales over the course of the year. Funds for good causes were down almost £37m at the mid-way point compared with the previous year. Camelot said the turnaround was down to a mixture of good strategy and luck.

An expectedly high number of EuroMillions jackpots of more than £100m had helped to boost overall sales, Camelot said.

But the figure raised for good causes was well down on the record high of £1.95bn raised in 2012/13. 

Overall lottery sales totalled £6.95bn last year, more than half a billion pounds down on the high reached just two years previously. 

Last summer Nigel Railton, who at the time was interim chief executive of Camelot, but has since been handed the permanent role, carried out a strategic review of the lottery in a bid to turn around flagging sales.

He said in a statement today: "Given that we had anticipated a further sales decline this year, our achievement in getting the National Lottery back into growth and delivering more money for good causes underlines the importance of the work we have been carrying out following the strategic review.

"It’s fair to say that sales benefited from a nice run of luck – particularly on EuroMillions with some incredible jackpots – but the strong foundations and new initiatives that we are putting in place have also started to play a part."

Camelot said mobile sales grew to an all-time high of £700.6m over the course of the year, with sales through smartphones and tablets accounting for more than 40 per cent of all digital sales.

It said the amounts generated for good causes were equal to about £30m a week and took the overall amount raised since the lottery was launched in 1994 to more than £38bn.

- The story originally said sales and funds for good causes had been in general decline in recent years. They are down on recent highs but had generally improved year on year, Camelot said. 

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