Thursday 6 October 2011

The case against the Desmond Lottery

I suppose the irony of the Express newspaper front page on Tuesday was lost on Mr Desmond ( proprietor of same ) . Atop the screaming headline: "New lottery to make Britain better" was a promotion involving a free chocolate wagon wheel!

And strangely, in their supposed reportage of the launch of the new lottery , there was no mention of the criticism of it.

So Daily Express I challenge you to cover this story properly. And in the meantime good luck to the journalist academic who has reported them to the Advertising Standards Authority for a flagrant breach of the ASA Code. I shall be writing to the ASA myself to back this complaint. We cannot have the Express and Star using their reportage to plug the lottery of their owner .

And an offer to the Editor of the Express. Allow me space to say why I am concerned about the new Lottery. And cover this on your front page to show you can report news fairly.

I think there is an issue about whether the society lottery legislation is properly used by an organisation trying to challenge the National Lottery. It was supposed to be about allowing organisations like the hospices to do lotteries.

The new lottery is clearly intended to compete with the National Lottery. It will have access to more retail outlets and is being heavily marketed on the back of the work of health charities.

The National Lottery gives 28p in the pound to good causes and charities across our sector including sports and arts and heritage. It also gives 12p to the treasury in tax so making a contribution to public finances.

Desmond will give only 20p to charity and pay no lottery levy to the Treasury. The rest goes in prize money , marketing and profit.

Last year the BLF gave £270m to health charities in a total of £1.3b to good causes.

So what does this mean. Say Desmond successfulIy hits his targets, making 50 mil for charity (and therefore taking 250 mil altogether). If that money comes from people not playing the lottery, it would mean £20 million less for good causes and £30 million less for HMT.

So if the new lottery is a success it will affect the overall sum going to the sector. This must be resisted. Whilst individual charities in health will be able to apply and get support ( and why should they not ) it is important that we pursue the overall case for all the sector and its funding.

The counter attack from the new lottery has been lamentable. They try to claim that much of the good cause money is going on the Olympics or art like the Opera. Shameful. The Olympics , in any case , is over next year. But the basis of the good cause distribution was to cover all the causes that the British people give their money to. People who love the arts, fundraise and support the work of the Royal Opera- a charity- for example. Many people give to heritage organisations like the National Trust.

I deeply dislike the claims being pursued by the Desmond Lottery that somehow the charities they will support are more worthy, and we should have a hierarchy of giving. Of course health charities do brilliant work; saving lives,supporting the most vulnerable. They are at the heart of giving and form a superb group of CEOs in ACEVO. But so do charities working with young people in our most deprived communities. Or those working with the unemployed. Or drug addiction. Excluded communities. And so on.

We cannot allow this to go unchallenged. I have challenged Mr Desmond to raise the amount he gives to health charities to 28p in the pound. I await his answer.


Dan Filson said...

The National Lottery also pulls punters into newsagents and corner groceries and probably helps their sales on other till-area sales, and so aids their survival as convenience stores. I doubt the Desmond lottery will do the same.

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