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The Not So Good For Your Health Lottery

The Not So Good For Your Health Lottery
Updated: Tuesday 22nd April 2014

Normally when lottery draws are talked about, it is due to their phenomenal jackpot prizes on offer that creates a stir within the lottery community. However, this has not been the case for Richard Desmond’s latest venture - the widely criticised Health Lottery. A new lottery game scheduled to take place this weekend, the Health Lottery appears to be creating publicity for all the wrong reasons courtesy of the highly controversial matter that is the Health Lottery's charitable donations.

Counting publications such as the Daily Express, Daily Star and OK! Magazine as Desmond’s own, he was also responsible for taking Channel 4’s beloved Big Brother under his wing to launch it on his newly-bought Channel 5 network earlier this year. Not content at dominating the media market, Richard Desmond then turned his attention to developing the Health Lottery, a venture designed to raise funds towards ‘health-related good causes’ – and whilst it might receive backing of a few big names (and some not so big) including the likes of Simon Cowell,  model Melinda Messenger and TV reality star Kate Lawler (a former contestant of Big Brother), not everyone is pleased with Richard’s latest venture.

Sir Stephen Bubb of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations is among many of those unhappy with the Health Lottery. In a letter to the Culture Secretary calling for a review on lottery legislation, he writes: “It seems to me that there is at least a case for saying that the Health Lottery goes against the spirit of the law as it currently stands.”

Although the intentions may appear pure and ethical, the monetary contributions are a slightly different matter. In order to qualify as a society lottery  the Health Lottery is legally required to donate a minimum of 20 pence from each £1 ticket sold – but at just 20.34p per donation, not only are they donating the bare minimum needed to follow society lottery guidelines, they are also exempt from paying lottery duty. Yet despite the Health Lottery coming under fierce criticism by numerous charities, Richard Desmond remains confident in his aim to raise up to £50 million a year for charitable projects.

A society lottery is permitted to sell the maximum of £10 million worth of lottery tickets in any calendar year, but with 51 society lotteries registered under the Health Lottery initiative, ticket sales for Desmond’s lottery could bring in anything up to £510 million. Yet while lotteries are banned from operating for profitable purposes, the Health Lottery can still function as an ‘external lottery manager’ – allowing them every opportunity to make a profit.

The first draw is set to take place on Saturday 8th October 2011 with the results airing at approximately 9.30pm during the commercial break of XFactor. The Health Lottery results will be available online within minutes of the draw being aired.

Written by Diana Nubuck

Published: Thursday 6th October 2011

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