Time to cut the red tape on charity lotteries – and release £125 million to good causes

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​Tony Vick says ending charity lottery restrictions will be a win-win - and Mims Davies must listen

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2nd April 2019 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

In an era of social and economic uncertainty, it warms the heart when you realise the great British public have a seemingly unlimited appetite for donating money to good causes.

Despite the tough climate, the nation’s charity lotteries celebrated an extraordinary year of growth, up to £296 million from £256m, when they gathered for their annual conference in Warwick.

These 400 charities brim with talent and dedication, both from staff and volunteers, and their contribution to the social capital of the nation is invaluable.

Every day they save lives through their support of air ambulances services - and enrich lives through supporting hospices, sporting groups, youth clubs and older people’s groups.

We seem to be in a win-win situation, as The National Lottery, operated by Camelot, is also in growth, shattering the myth that small lotteries reduce the amount they raise for good causes.

However, our charities are operating with one hand tied behind their backs as, unlike the National Lottery, they are restricted by an outdated law on how much they can raise and the jackpots they can offer.

Tony Vick

Tony Vick

Our charities are operating with one hand tied behind their backs

The Lotteries Council has been taking part in a consultation with the Government designed to cut out the red tape to release money for good causes.

To do this we are asking for:

* An increase in the annual sales limit from £10m to £100m. Lotteries are the only form of fundraising which has a limit on the amount of money that can be raised.

* An increase in the individual draw limit from £4m to £10m.

* An increase in the jackpot limit to £1m. Many charities can offer just a £25,000 top prize – a limit that was set in 1976. This is paltry in comparison to the average National Lottery jackpot on offer, and the increase will enable charities to decide their own jackpots. This is still much smaller than the National Lottery jackpot.

* An increase in the threshold at which small lotteries are forced to go through expensive registration from £20,000 per draw to £40,000 and £250,000 per year to £500,000. Charities nearing the existing limits face an impossible choice – either decide not to grow their lottery or spend money that should be going to their good causes on an expensive and resource-heavy application to the Gambling Commission.

The current requirement that every lottery, from the very first one operated, has to make a profit of at least 20% should be aggregated over three years. No other organisation anywhere has to face this 20% hurdle from the day they start operating.

Recent research shows that loosening the regulatory stranglehold will encourage more people to play charity lotteries, and we estimate that this will result in an additional £125m going to good causes over the next five years.

The consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on resolving this outdated system ended six months ago and we are still waiting for answers.

We hope that Mims Davies, minister for sport and civil society, realises how much depends on a speedy decision.

It seems bizarre that while there is no limit to our generosity, artificial limits still exist to stop charities benefiting from that generosity.

Tony Vick is chairman of The Lotteries Council.