Sector fights back at Camelot

Lottery operator Camelot has come under attack for claiming that ticket sales have been damaged by media revelations of Community Fund grants going to groups helping asylum seekers.

In a statement published last week, the company claimed that adverse publicity about "one particular lottery grant

had resulted in the loss of £500,000 worth of sales. This follows Home Secretary David Blunkett's well-publicised intervention over the Community Fund's grant to the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns.

But a Camelot spokeswoman refused to say what evidence the company had for the claim. "We have presented it to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and aren't making any more comment,

she said.

But the department, however, remains unconvinced. "Ticket sales have clearly fallen but to put the blame squarely at the Community Fund's door is wrong,

said a spokesman.

Lottery expert Professor Ian Walker, of Warwick University, also questioned Camelot's logic and motivation. "People play to win, not to lose to charity,

he said. "Camelot is using this to distract from the real causes of the decline in sales."

Third Sector understands that the Community Fund was instructed by the Government to remain silent in order to stop the row with Camelot from escalating.

But before the "gag" was imposed, chief executive Richard Buxton claimed that the lottery operator was "seeking to scapegoat us for their own poor performance".

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