The Department for Culture, Media and Sport launched a consultation on society lotteries, the National Lottery and other competing gambling products and the approach it will take to funding good causes and ensuring player protection.
This consultation, announced in 2012, had been long awaited. It was due to take place in 2013. However, Ministers delayed its opening in order to widen its scope. It was originally planned to focus on whether or not regulations for society lotteries needed tightening. The delay was said to reflect a change in market conditions, which included the growth of the National Lottery, the Health Lottery and gambling products which behave like society lotteries but are not currently required to raise funds for good causes.
The seven questions in the consultation focused on
- whether the amount that society lotteries are required to give to good causes is suitable;
- whether the Gambling Act 2005 regulations deal adequately with umbrella society schemes, such as the Health Lottery;
- how far the National Lottery should be shielded from competition; and
- whether the market share between the competing ‘products’ are appropriate and whether action should be taken to address any issues raised about market share.
Helen Grant, the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Equalities, has said that the boundary between the commercial gambling sector and society lotteries and the National Lottery is no longer clear. This is due to the growth in society lotteries and competing gambling products, alongside the related trend in online gaming.
It is considered that player protection and the continued raising of funds for good causes, which is a key aspect of the National Lottery, may require action on behalf of the Government.
In his evidence to the parliamentary committee, Andy Duncan, the chief executive of the National Lottery operator, Camelot, cautioned against deregulation of society lotteries because it might reduce the funds given to good causes. He advocated a system that maximised the returns for good causes. These sentiments were echoed by other lottery chief executives, Dawn Austwick of the Big Lottery Fund and Carole Souter of the Heritage Lottery Fund. Two Ministers, Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society, and Helen Grant, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Equalities, were also concerned that greater competition would reduce the funds available for good causes.
The consultation closed on 4 March 2015.