In 1994, during the parliamentary reign of John Major, an Act of Parliament was passed that gave the Camelot Group licence to organise and run the National Lottery and so pleased were successive Governments by their endeavours their licence was renewed without debate in 2001 and again in 2007. The lottery is regulated, or rubberstamped, by the National Lottery Commission. Its aim, apparently, is to raise as much money for ‘good causes’ as possible. Whether funding for the winning of gold medals is as good a ‘good cause’ than, say, either the N.H.S. or education is a topic in need of discussion.
Money raised through the National Lottery is distributed thusly: 50% goes into the prize fund – this in practice is I believe debatable, though in theory this is the case, though it flies in the face of its aim to raise as much money as possible for good causes when the next figure is read – 28% goes to good causes – 12% to the U.K. Government in duty, this may be considered a stealth tax – 5% to retailers as commission – 5% to Camelot to cover operating costs – 0.5% is the profit that falls into the hands of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, the owners of Britain’s National Lottery. If you are mathematically astute you will be aware all those percentages comes out at 100.5%. A statistical anomaly, I suspect.
In 2010 the fat cats that comprised the Camelot Group sold their shares to the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan for £389-million.
Lotteries are not a new concept, of course. They were so numerous and so disreputable in our history a statute was passed in 1698 by Parliament to suppress ‘the evil-disposed Persons’ who operated such scams. Any lottery since had need of an Act of Parliament. So we can be comforted by the knowledge that the present Lottery is at least legal.
In the first ever draw of the National Lottery – how excited we were at this dawning of an era that promised every one of us that there were untold riches on the horizon and how we blessed John Major and his enlightened ministers for allowing the poor minions of our great country the opportunity of life changing amounts of money – 7 winners shared £5,874,778.
Of course people soon cottoned-on to the sad fact that the National Lottery was not the game changer it was promised to be and was by design a backdoor method of raising money for projects that could not be financed through taxation. A stealth tax, no less. In 2002 the National Lottery was rebranded as Lotto and again due to falling revenue in 2013 the price of a ticket was doubled to £2, followed by an announcement that large bonuses were to be set aside for management pay. In October 2015 Camelot screwed the game completely in favour of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, themselves, Government and the richer portions of society, and completely against the poorer sections of society who would most benefit from a windfall, by adding ten numbers and thereby lengthening the chances of anyone winning the top prize to odds very similar to anyone of us meeting Jesus and his Apostles in the fruit aisle of the local supermarket. Equally the odds on winning the 2nd prize were lengthened to that of bumping into the Pope in a branch of Subways.
Yes, I admit £20 to £40 billion pounds has been allocated to good causes and that must not be sneered at. But £20-billion had been raised by 2007 when ticket prices were still only £1. So why has Camelot been allowed to cock a snoot at the poorer sections of society, the very people closest to becoming members of the ‘good causes’ in need of Lottery handouts, by increasing its charges 100% and adding additional numbers that obviously lengthen the odds of anyone winning a life-altering prize?
In a previous piece for this website I have proposed a Government run lottery to raise additional funding for the N.H.S. along with sensible and proportioned prizes for the tax paying public. I have conveyed my idea to the Prime Minister’s office, my local M.P. and others in hope of gaining their insight and opinion and in reply I have as yet only received dead-bat facts and figures designed to ensure me that the N.H.S. is in safe hands.
The dead-bat figures are as follows: £8- billion in real terms over the next 5-years, of which the N.H.S. will earmark £2-4 billion for G.P. services. This investment will include a £500 million Sustainability and Transformation package to help G.P. practices recruit staff and tackle workload. In the last Budget additional capital funding was announced to support the N.H.S. with £325-million for local improvement plans and £100-million to improve A & E services.
If the proposed additional funding of £380- million raised through my idea of a Government backed lottery is but a drop in the ocean when compared to funds raised through taxation, though over 5-years the figure is more impressive, there must be an elephant in the room that is being deliberately ignored.
And that elephant will be the subject of my next piece.
But to return to the Lottery.
We were sold a lottery for the people, yet in reality it is and always has been a scam to raise duty for the Government, to erect civic buildings the country otherwise would be unable to fund, allow athletes to chase their dreams of gold medals and to donate money to good causes, though only 28% of the whole sum raised.
At the moment weeks roll into months before a top prize is won, with as little as a £1,000 being the most anyone wins for weeks on end. Yet every week the Government collect their 12% duty. The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan scoop their peculiar dividend of 0.5%. The retailers get their 5%. Camelot get their operating costs. Why is there not a petition for the removal of those ten additional numbers and a reduction in the price of a ticket? Camelot only receive operating costs, so it is not profiteering on their part. And the ‘as much money for good causes’ argument sucks because if that was the case the Government wouldn’t take 12% in duty, would they? No, though I can’t prove it, I suspect those additional numbers and the 100% price hike was about the anomalous 0.5% that goes into the coffers of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.
Camelot have recently posted profits of £71-million. The odds of winning the top prize have lengthened from 1 in 14 to 1 in 45. A scam, I would suggest, as reprehensible as those ‘evil-disposed’ people of 1698!