The Health Lottery Comes Underfire

October 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Lottery News

You may have seen the adverts on television for the new Health Lottery, a new game set up to rival the Lotto promising to raise money for projects that tackle health inequalities. This sounds great in theory but questions are now being raised about the ethics of the venture with one critic going as far as accusing them of “profiteering on the back of charities and undermining more generous lotteries.”

Richard Desmond the man behind the Health Lottery is worth over £950 million after making his fortune though his media company Northern Shell owning many X Rated television channels, Channel 5 and several big newspapers. The lottery was launched last month in furore of publicity included many (not necessarily famous) names including Melinda Messenger, Kate Lawler and Gail Porter. Mr Desmond has signed up more then 40,000 retailers to sell tickets for the Health Lottery which is 12,000 more outlets then the Lotto.

Tickets for the Health Lottery cost just £1 each which is the same as the Lotto but only 20.3p of this will actually find its way to the good causes. It will operate a series of fifty one lotteries representing different areas of the UK and each one will take a turn to benefit from the weekly draws. The Lotto however donates over 40% more with 28p of every ticket sale going straight to good causes. The Health Lotteries figure is even more disappointing when you consider that they will not have to pay the 12% lottery duty to the government because they are classed as a society lottery.

Mr Desmond has been criticised for his Health Lottery largely because if players actually swap over from the Lotto the charities will end up losing out on potentially vast sums of money. In addition to this Garth Caswell, of the Hospice Lotteries Association that runs weekly lotteries to raise money for 115 hospices across the country has warned the venture poses a major threat to local charities saying “It’s potentially diverting huge amounts of money away from local hospice care at a time when charities are already losing revenue as a result of the economic downturn”.

Martin Hall who is Chief Executive of the Health lottery has defended their decision only to pay the minimum amount required by the Gambling Commission saying “The National Lottery gives less money in prizes, we give more. So if we give more in prizes there is less to give away”.

The first draw for the new lottery takes place on Saturday 8th October and the Health Lottery results will be shown on Channel 5 and ITV according to the official page.