That’s the ticket: public and MP opposition to charity lottery regulation

That’s the ticket: public and MP opposition to charity lottery regulation

The public and MPs want to let charity lotteries flourish. Conservative MPs especially keen on letting charity lotteries flourish.

Joe Saxton

The headlines from our research

  • The public are against laws and regulations which stop competition between charity lotteries and the National Lottery, or charity lotteries raising as much money, by 66% to 12% and 64% to 14% respectively (chart 1).
  • And a very similar percentage of MPs are against laws and regulations stopping competition (66%) and against laws and regulations that stop as much money being raised (62%, with just 12% in favour and 26% unsure) (chart 2).


The background to the research

Since the National Lottery was launched in the mid-90s lotteries run by charities (formally called society lotteries) are subject to a raft of regulations that stops charity lotteries getting too big, and competing with the National Lottery.

These regulations include forcing every individual lottery run by a charity to have a certain level of profit (20%) and making the process of registering to run lotteries the same as for casinos and commercial gamblers. The most obvious anti-competition measure is capping the size of individual lotteries at £4 million per lottery, the level of prizes and the turnover limits at £10 million a year. Just to put this bonkers regulation in context: it implies that the best way to make sure that the National Lottery continues to raise money for good causes is to make it harder for other organisations to raise money for good causes through lotteries!

Some of these regulations would require primary legislation to change but others can be changed by secondary legislation – where ministers can amend or update laws. So while the need for every lottery to make a profit of 20% can only be amended by primary legislation, the turnover caps can be amended by secondary legislation.

The good news is that DCMS has recently carried out a consultation to see whether individual charity (or society) lotteries should be able to increase their annual turnover from £10 million to £100 million per annum. In addition the consultation covered whether the size of prizes and individual lotteries should be increased as well. The main charities who are impacted by these regulations are those lotteries who have reached the £10 million turnover limit[1].

We surveyed 1000 members of the general public online (representative by age, gender and social class) about their views on whether charity lotteries and the National Lottery should be able to compete, as well as the size of prizes, and how much money is raised. Many of these questions were a repeat of questions we asked and published in 2015.

This time we asked the same questions to 151 MPs representative by political party. The questions for both MPs and the general public was asked in the Autumn of 2018.  The full results can be found here.

More interesting results from the research:

  • The public are against capping the number of tickets sold for the National Lottery (21% in favour of capping, 59% against) and charity lotteries (16% in favour and 62% against) (chart 1).
  • Interestingly public opinion on capping the size of the prizes is more evenly balanced with 35% in favour of National Lottery prizes should be capped and 25% in favour of charity lottery prizes should be capped (chart 1). MPs are less in favour of capping prize-size with 22% for charity lottery and 25% for the National Lottery (chart 2).
  • There has been little change in public attitudes since we last ran the research in 2015.
  • Interestingly, Labour MPs are less likely to be against restricting competition compared to Conservative MPs. So while 75% of Conservative MPs are against laws and regulation which stop competition, 56% of Labour are against it, with a high proportion of Labour ‘not sure’.

So the current Government is out of step with both the public and MPs, and its own MPs in particular if it doesn’t take these measures forward to raise turnover and prize caps.


[1] Full disclosure: one of these organisations is the People’s Postcode Lottery (PPL) who is a client of nfpSynergy’s. However this research was neither funded nor commissioned by PPL or any other third party. It has been paid for out of nfpSynergy profits.

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