Health warnings for new lottery?

Last Saturday witnessed the first draw of the highly anticipated and somewhat criticized Health Lottery. The Health Lottery, it claims, is not a national lottery, but 51 local society lotteries each representing one or more local authority areas. Each one is licensed by the Gambling Commission and will raise money for health related good causes within their respective local authority areas – sounds noble enough?

The money raised will not go towards services that are covered by existing NHS funding. Instead, through their partner charity the ‘Peoples Health Trust, the monies will be distributed across Great Britain to health related good causes important to local communities within each respective area. This means that every single part of Great Britain gets a share of the pot. England is to get the lion’s share of lottery revenue, an expected £42m, followed by Scotland with £5m and Wales with £3m. It is reported that over 100 charities have already registered their interest.

‘A significant element of Desmond’s business and money is in the pornography industry which is linked to the abuse of women. Are his motivations really altruistic or are they driven by business?’

So what is the Problem?

In a nutshell,  I think it can be nicely summarised by the following 3 points:

1)      Richard Desmond: Conveyed brilliantly by Jonnie Dowie via a blog on the SCVOs website -  ‘a significant element of Desmond’s business and money is in the pornography industry which is linked to the abuse of women. Are his motivations really altruistic or are they driven by business?’ If charities take money from the Health lottery, will this put off donors who don’t want to be associated with such a dubious character? I recognise donations are down and money is stretched very tightly, however anyone who knows anything about reputation and stakeholder management would urge caution about being associated with it.

2)      Low returns to charity: Disgracefully only 20.3p from every £1 will go to health charities – this unsurprisingly has caused outrage. Acevo chief executive Sir Stephen Bubb, branded Mr Desmond a ‘disgrace’ and I happen to agree. I personally find it insulting that that he is brandishing slogans such as ‘The Tonic for Britain’ and promoting  the health lottery as a vehicle which is going to save society, whilst lining his pockets so nicely! 

3)      Impact on hospices: Garth Caswell, chairman of the Hospice Lotteries Association believes that the health lottery will take a vital source of income for Britain’s hospice charities, potentially taking away a total of almost £50 million every year and at a time when charities are already losing revenue as a result of the economic downturn.… this is not good Mr Desmond..

So what is the solution? A new breed of lottery – TWOTTO

Twotto is the only lottery system of its kind, offering Twitter users the chance to win cash prizes each week, contribute to charity and receive great offers in the process.National Twotto will need to attract 100,000 Twitter followers before it starts to give away a weekly prize draw, based on a fixed percentage of how many people follow the lottery. It will give away an amount equivalent to 2 per cent of the followers, so at 100,000 followers £2,000 will be given away. The first prize of £1,000 cash will be given directly to a randomly-selected Twitter follower, and a second prize of £1,000 will be awarded to the person who recruited the most other Twitter followers, to be donated to a charity of their choice.

Although Twotto is far from reaching its 100,000 follower goal, with currently fewer than 300 followers – it provides a much welcomed alternative to the National Lottery and the dubious Health Lottery. Although the jackpots are much smaller (who needs £80m anyway) it gives registered users the opportunity to personally decide where the money goes. Best of all, It’s simple and free to play so no uses the guise of raising money for charity to profiteer! A must for anyone  – this is one lottery I’m definitely going to play!

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