Ian Monk: Place your bets on lottery PR clash

Is anyone taking bets on the outcome of the current PR spat between the National Lottery and Richard Desmond's Health Lottery?

Ian Monk: Place your bets on lottery PR clash
Ian Monk: Place your bets on lottery PR clash

Camelot, provider of the National Lottery, is claiming the moral high ground in seeking to protect its monopoly numbers game by invoking national interest due to the amounts raised for good causes.

Camelot's PR centres on claims that the Health Lottery breaches its monopoly as the UK's only national lottery. Encouraged, one suspects, by successful lobbying, the Government refers the Health Lottery to the Gambling Commission, citing concerns that charities and good causes will miss out.

In its counter-offensive, the Health Lottery sets out its stall as an amalgam of 51 separate lotteries representing each region of Britain. Thus it claims not to be a 'national lottery'. The Health Lottery also argues that it has grown the lottery market, thus enabling a greater weekly amount to go to good causes than before.

Thus it uses the 'everyone's a winner' argument to confront criticism that the Health Lottery gives only 20.3 pence in every pound to charity compared with Camelot's 28 pence.

Expect more headlines from the upstart Health Lottery. Why, it might argue, should the state endorse any sort of a monopoly that has its roots in something which many citizens find as pernicious as gambling?

And how can the National Lottery justify giving such obscenely large sums of money, tax free, to individual winners in an age when 'we're all in it together'? Perhaps the Health Lottery's £100,000 top prize coupled with a proper reward of £50 to punters who successfully pick three numbers carries a stronger PR message in austere times.

The National Lottery gives winners who pick three correct numbers from their six selections out of 49 numbers a £10 prize for their £1 stake, odds of 9-1. Mathematical odds against such a selection are 57-1.

As a betting man, I'd take far shorter odds on the survival and prosperity of the Health Lottery.

Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun.

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