Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 7

Memorandum submitted by The Methodist Church

  I would like to make a short submission on behalf of the Methodist Church to the inquiry by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee into the Operation of the National Lottery.

  The Methodist Church has maintained an interest in the National Lottery since it was first proposed.

  Following lengthy reflection the Methodist governing body, the Methodist Conference, agreed in 1999 that churches should be allowed to apply for Lottery funding through good causes, but that such applications should be particularly sensitive to the feelings of their natural constituency and supporters. This decision followed a prohibition on applications, and reflected a recognition of the position of the Lottery and of the changes it had made to the landscape of charitable funding.

  The Church still has particular concerns about the National Lottery which are of relevance to the inquiry.

THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE AGE LIMIT FOR THE PURCHASE OF LOTTERY TICKETS

  We appreciate that both Camelot and the National Lottery have made a crackdown on under-age play a major priority. However it is apparent that even these efforts are proving insufficient. Recent research showed 17.7 per cent (one in six) of young people aged 12-15 had spent their own money in the previous week on Lottery tickets (buying them themselves or through adults). 1.7 per cent are already classified as problem gamblers with Lottery Instants.

  Other research has shown that the majority of people who have a serious problem with gambling began to gamble in their early teens. In other words, the younger someone begins gambling, the more likely they are to develop problem gambling at a later stage. Under-age participation in the Lottery is therefore very worrying.

  In response the Churches, together with the Gaming Board and various research bodies, support raising the minimum playing age for the National Lottery from 16 to 18 years old. This would help to exclude the 14 and 15 year olds who can pass for 16, but who do not look 18, from buying tickets unchallenged.

  The minimum age for playing lotteries across America and the rest of Europe is 18. The UK Lottery is out of step here. Gambling, even in the form of the National Lottery, must be seen as an activity for adults. Raising the minimum playing age to 18 would assist in this.

THE IMPACT OF THE NATIONAL LOTTERY UPON CHARITIES

  Churches are concerned about the way in which the National Lottery has distorted the sources of funding for the voluntary sector. Organisations can feel compelled to apply for Lottery funding as the expectation is that any application for voluntary sector funding will be match-funded by the Lottery or at least preceded by a Lottery bid. Some churches do not wish to apply for Lottery funding on moral grounds and this places them in a difficult position.

THE ROLE OF THE NATIONAL LOTTERY COMMISSION, AND STRUCTURE OF LOTTERY GAMES

  Representatives of the Methodist Church meet regularly with the National Lottery Commission. We are encouraged that they share our concerns about under-age play, and also about the dangers of games which promote rapid re-playing, or encourage people to chase their losses. However we would wish strongly to restate our opposition to the introduction of any new games which can lead to excessive play and problem gambling. We were glad to see the collapse of the Pronto! project.

THE DISTRIBUTION OF FUNDS

  The Lottery was founded on the principle of additionality—that Lottery funding should not be used to replace taxpayer's money. The New Opportunities Fund, whilst funding many worthwhile projects, has undermined this principle of additionality. Health and education projects are key to the Government's strategy for tackling social exclusion, and, as a consequence, the direction of NOF programmes will be set by the Secretary of State. But mainstream Government programmes should be funded out of general expenditure, not from Lottery money. We would also like to see the principle of additionality within the Lottery upheld, and Lottery distributors given discretion over programmes and projects.

  I hope that these comments will be helpful for the inquiry. We look forward to seeing the outcome.

October 2000


 
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