National Lottery's good-cause funds flat despite £255m rise in ticket sales

The latest accounts from Camelot say good-cause money fell slightly in 2017/18 to £1.65bn; the company says the discrepancy is due to the popularity of instant-win games, which offer smaller returns to charity

Funds raised for good causes by the National Lottery remained flat over the past year despite a £255m increase in ticket sales, the latest figures from the lottery organiser Camelot show.

Camelot’s financial results for the year to the end of March 2019, published today, showed a slight fall in the amount raised for good causes, from £1.66bn in 2017/18 to £1.65bn.

But the value of ticket sales grew by £255.1m, or 3.7 per cent, to £7.2bn over the same period.

A spokeswoman for Camelot said this was due to the popularity of the lottery’s instant-win games, which account for some of the growth in sales but offer smaller returns for charity than the live draws.

The figures show that the National Lottery has raised more than £40bn for good causes since it began 25 year ago.

The spokeswoman said: "Returns to good causes were down by £600,000 this year, which is a decline of 0.001 per cent, but the £40bn over 25 years of the National Lottery is really important because as the Treasury originally forecast £1bn a year at the time of launch.

"The amount of money returned to good causes over any given period depends on a number of variable factors, including the mix of games sold, whether they are bought online or in retail and the level of unclaimed prizes.

"Draw-based games such as Lotto and EuroMillions return more in percentage terms to good causes than scratchcards and online instant-win games.

"In recent years, these instant games have grown in popularity and have started making up a higher proportion of total National Lottery sales, which has had an impact on total returns to good causes."

Last year, a report from the Public Accounts Committee warned that organisations that distribute the good-cause money might be unable to fulfil commitments they had made if the income from the National Lottery fell significantly and said the terms of Camelot’s 14-year contract to run the lottery, negotiated in 2012, were too generous to the company.

The Camelot spokeswoman said the firm had been making "important" improvements to its draw-based games, launching new games and introducing more draw days.

In a statement, Camelot said its Set For Life game, introduced in March, which offers a top prize of £10,000 a month for 30 years, was expected to boost-good cause money by £100m in the next financial year.

Dawn Austwick, chief executive of the National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes a share of the good-cause money to charities, said: "National Lottery players should feel proud of the difference they’ve made to communities across the UK. This money changes lives."

Over the 25 years of the lottery’s existence, Austwick said, grants had been awarded to 565,000 individual projects, the equivalent of 200 projects in every UK postcode district.

Over the 2018/19 financial year, the lottery awarded £4.1bn in prizes to players and created a record high 406 new millionaires, the Camelot statement said.

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