Stop selling the Health Lottery, plead charities: Good causes are losing out as supermarkets push new game

Charity leaders are urging supermarkets to stop selling tickets for the controversial Health Lottery amid claims that stores are deliberately promoting the new game at the expense of the National Lottery.

The recently launched lottery is already the subject of three official investigations after complaints to gambling regulators, MPs and advertising watchdogs.

Acevo, the association of chief executives of voluntary organisations, has written to supermarkets asking them to ‘do the right thing’ and drop the lottery because it gives a far lower proportion of revenue to good causes than its rival.

The Health Lottery, which is the subject of three official investigations
The National Lottery gives 12p per ticket to the Exchequer

Controversial: The Health Lottery is the subject of three official investigations, while The National Lottery gives more money to good causes than its rival

The association – which represents more than 2,000 charity leaders – said it also had evidence that some supermarket managers had been instructed to give Health Lottery ticket stands greater prominence in stores than the National Lottery.

Acevo chief executive Sir Stephen Bubb has written to Morrisons, saying he was ‘appalled to hear... reports that Morrisons HQ has instructed its stores to move National Lottery stands to less prominent positions (for example, to the back of the shop) and to put Health Lottery stands in more prominent spots (such as at the entrance to the store). Can you clarify whether this is true?

‘I also assume Morrisons is in receipt of payment from the Health Lottery in return for this promotion. Again, can you clarify that this is true?

‘To be clear: if Morrisons is being paid by Richard Desmond to promote the Health Lottery (and particularly if it is being paid to promote the Health Lottery over the National Lottery), the deal you will have struck is less money for good causes, more money for Morrisons.’ 

The lottery that threatens little Lewis, from the Mail, October 28

The Health Lottery, run by Mr Desmond, the proprietor of the Express newspaper titles and the Daily Star, is facing a series of investigations.

The Government has asked the National Lottery Commission to investigate whether the game was damaging sales of the National Lottery.

It has also asked the Gambling Commission to check whether the Health Lottery complies with restrictions on such competitions.

The Advertising Standards Authority has launched a probe after complaints that Mr Desmond used his newspapers to run adverts for the competition disguised as news stories.

It is illegal to set up a national lottery to rival Camelot. The Health Lottery has circumvented this rule by setting up a network of 51 local lottery societies – which also makes it exempt from paying the extra 12p duty a ticket that the National Lottery gives to the Exchequer.

Morrisons would not say if it had received additional payments for promoting the Health Lottery, saying  it never discussed ‘commercial relationships’.

A spokesman added: ‘Morrisons has not been paid extra money from the Health Lottery to move National Lottery terminals to less prominent positions.’

A Health Lottery spokesman said: ‘Acevo’s claims are not founded on fact – major retailers tell us that since launch there has been no detrimental impact on National Lottery ticket sales and indeed the available data suggests that their sales have actually increased.’

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