Sector bodies disagree over proposal to ease restrictions on society lotteries

In response to a government consultation, the Institute of Fundraising backs the plan but the NCVO says changes might affect the public's view of charities associated with society lotteries

Society lotteries
Society lotteries

Voluntary sector organisations and lottery bodies have disagreed over whether the government should loosen the restrictions governing society lotteries.

In response to a consultation by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the regulation of society lotteries, which closed yesterday, organisations including the Institute of Fundraising, the Hospice Lotteries Association and the Lotteries Council roundly backed a loosening of the regulations.

But the National Council for Voluntary Organisations said in its response that the case for large-scale deregulation had not been made, and substantial changes might "impact on the way the public views society lotteries and the charities associated with them".

The National Lottery operator Camelot and the Big Lottery Fund also expressed concerns about the large-scale deregulation of society lotteries.

The response from the IoF said that the annual limit on ticket sales for society lotteries should be increased from £10m to £100m and the rule dictating that society lotteries must give at least 20 per cent of their proceeds to good causes should be relaxed so that the 20 per cent could be averaged over an extended period of time.

A joint response from the Hospice Lotteries Association and the Lotteries Council agreed with calls from the IoF to increase the level of ticket sales allowed in a single draw from £4m to £10m – a move the IoF said would enable larger charities to raise more for less effort.

But the NCVO said a smaller increase to the £10m annual proceeds cap should apply. It called for this to be raised to £15m a year in line with inflation over recent years.

"We do not believe there is sufficient evidence to substantially increase the size of the annual proceeds, individual draw and prize caps, as called for by some other bodies," the NCVO’s response said. "We are concerned that such considerable changes could have an impact on the way the public views society lotteries and, in turn, the charities associated with them."

The BLF, which distributes 40 per cent of the money raised by the National Lottery, said in its response it was concerned that any "regulatory changes may threaten a vital source of income which stretches to all parts of the UK including small and sometimes vulnerable organisations".

Camelot's response said large-scale society lotteries presented "a very real threat to the future success of the National Lottery, having positioned themselves as ‘national competitors’ but returning significantly less to society while seemingly retaining a disproportionate percentage of revenue in expenses".

Recommending the continued existence of a monopoly for the National Lottery, the World Lottery Association called for "clear and traditional distinctions between the National Lottery, society lotteries and the for-profit gaming sector through an appropriate regulatory framework", but recommended "appropriate deregulatory measures that could enable maximising returns for good causes" such as allowing Gift Aid on lottery ticket purchases.

A spokesman for the 51 different local lotteries that come under the umbrella of the Health Lottery said of its response: "There is ample evidence that the National Lottery is not under threat from society lotteries in any shape or form, therefore it is not longer possible to justify the level of regulation on society lotteries."

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