Media magnate Richard Desmond’s new Health Lottery, which is due to go live later this week, has been branded a ‘pretty disgraceful development’by a leading charity figure.
The Health Lottery, which launches on Thursday, will be operated by Desmond’s company Northern & Shell, owner of newspapers including the Daily Star and Daily Express and broadcaster Channel 5.
Tickets will cost £1, with 20.3p in the pound going back into local health projects across the country. The operators hope to raise £50m a year.
Tickets for the National Lottery cost the same but 28p in the pound to good causes, which led to Sir Stephen Bubb, the chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo), to brand the project a “pretty disgraceful development”.
‘I don’t think Mr Desmond suddenly woke up one day and thought ‘how can I help health charities’,’Bubb told the website civilsociety.co.uk.
‘He intends this lottery to be a profit-making scheme and he is competing directly with the National Lottery because he is going to be selling his tickets in more retail outlets than the National Lottery.
‘And he is only giving 20p per pound to health charities whereas the National Lottery gives 28p in the pound to good causes, so if he does compete and it reduces the amount going to the National Lottery then charities will suffer.”
He added: ‘If he is doing it on the back of this emotional pull of supporting health charities then I absolutely think he has to match the National Lottery, otherwise we are going to lose out as a sector.”
The competition offers a £100,000 top prize for matching five numbers, £500 for four numbers and £50 for three, and will be supported by a multi-million pound marketing drive.
Tickets will be available to buy from 29 September and more than 40,000 have reportedly signed up to sell the tickets – 28,000 more than for the National Lottery.
No-one at Northern Shell was available for comment, but John Hume, chief executive of the People’s Health Trust, the body set up to distribute the fund, told Third Sector magazine: ‘We want to help people live longer, healthy lives.
‘We’ll be looking at areas of disadvantage and we want to fund projects that are tailored to individual communities’ needs.”
The draw will take place on Saturday nights and will be shown during adverts on ITV and Desmond’s Channel 5.