Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Monday, 2 July, 2001, 07:13 GMT 08:13 UK
Has the National Lottery lost its appeal?

The National Lottery is likely to raise far less for good causes than Camelot had promised when it was bidding for the operating licence last year.

The Lottery regulator, Lord Burns, says the shortfall could be as much as five billion pounds over the next seven years.

Both Camelot and rival bidder Richard Branson's People's Lottery predicted they would raise 15bn for good causes, although the National Lottery Commission insisted both bids had been far too optimistic over ticket sales.

With tickets sales down, Camelot remains insistant that it can combat the malaise with aggressive marketing and bigger prize money.

Have you become bored with the lottery? Would Richard Branson's People's Lottery have been a better choice?

This Talking Point is now closed. Your comments are posted below.

Yes, people have lost interest in the lottery and for the simple reason that the prizes are too small. The prize for matching three numbers should be increased to 30, and for four should be at least 100. It might also be a good idea if every now and again, but not every week, they could offer a 10 prize for matching 2 numbers! Players would then have a chance of at least winning something.
Jane, Wales, UK

The non-profit option was the way it should have gone

Paul Clarke, England
I used to buy two tickets for each lottery draw but since it was given back to Camelot I have not bought a single ticket. The non-profit option was the way it should have gone. Camelot will not be making any profits out of me.
Paul Clarke, England

Of course people lose confidence and get 'bored' with the lottery - it's drawn too often, has zillions of scratch cards, encourages avarice and greed by offering mega jackpots and hoards the money 'not yet allocated' to charities. If they paid out more money at the lower end of the game with a mega jackpot every month that would be better. Of course, actually distributing the funds to good causes not quango fat cats and the chronically stupid Dome would help immeasurably. I do hope Camelot take notice of the views expressed on this page and start to take notice. Whatever happened to the Dome anyway?
Sue, UK

The national lottery was a matter of total indifference to me from the very beginning. Hiring 'wacky' presenters such as Dale Winton is an instant turn-off for so many people, and the money raised could have been spent so much better, with millions being wasted away on self-indulgent modern 'art' and the opera. I don't understand why people spend pounds and pounds on the lottery when you have a much better chance down at the bookies. And at least that involves a little bit of judgement.
Iain Kay, Scotland

The lottery is driven by improbable dreams

Greg, UK
The lottery is driven by improbable dreams to which the poorer members of society are more susceptible and as such is a tax on the poor. Strange how the 'Labour' Party is supporting it as a profit making enterprise. I myself, after working out the chance to win ten pounds as about 2% when you need 10% to break even, have never played it and never will!
Greg, UK

On the rare occasions I buy a ticket I don't care what happens to my pound - good cause or director bonus makes no difference to me. I do find it ironic that the people at the bottom of the economic heap spend a higher proportion of their money chasing the millions on offer, yet these are the same people who are more likely to have their entire lives turned upside down if they ever did win it.
Karl Peters, UK

People have commented about limiting the size of the top prize in order to increase sales seem to forget that a rollover (a bigger jackpot) results in more ticket sales. This is all a result of the lottery being far more successful than originally thought - estimates of the jackpot initially were around 2 million for the Saturday draw, not the 7 million we currently get. And as for funding hospitals and schools - that's why we pay taxes!
Peter, UK

The lottery would be much better with a once a week format

Les Bruce, Scotland
The lottery would be much better with a once-a-week format, cutting out the unnecessary Thunderball, and spreading the prizes to give people a better chance of winning a decent amount of cash. I personally stopped regular participation when it went twice weekly.
Les Bruce, Scotland

For most people, getting rid of their mortgage or other sizeable regular outlay would be like winning the lottery, as they would find themselves better placed to enjoy their hard-earned, heavily taxed income. A Lottery with a jackpot cap (albeit it an impressive one, say 5m) with therefore more money available to the lower-end winners would rejuvenate some of the loss of interest the lottery now suffers. I feel the overload of scratchcards, the introduction of the midweek draw and Camelot's fat-cat persona have all belittled what the lottery was about. I'm sure there's time to make amends; if they wanted to!!
Ian Church, England

Many of the people who gamble the most are those with the least money

Andrena Maynard, Scotland
It is a sad comment on the nature of the National Lottery that many of the people who gamble the most are those with the least money, grasping at an imaginary and far off pot of gold. They should shorten the odds of winning, increase prize money for fewer numbers and pay out MUCH more - they make more than enough money. Give Richard a chance.
Andrena Maynard, Scotland

Isn't this a common pattern in lottery projects all over the world. After the initial honeymoon, people become disillusioned with the prospect of paying for a ticket worth only half what they paid. The other issue which people seem to forget is that the government takes 12% tax on a lottery ticket. This further reduces the amount which can be provided for good causes.
Keith, England

The national lottery is not a tax on investments or on savings, it is a tax on stupidity.
Nicola, England

The lottery as it is run at the moment is spending far too much of its money advertising for people to buy tickets. We all know it's there but 14 million to one odds are a little steep - you might as well put half the money on a horse and give the rest to a charity of your choice.
Neil Hayton, West Yorkshire

I lost interest years ago

Luke, UK
I lost interest years ago when it became obvious that there were few good causes outside of London, therefore I would never benefit from this side. I object to funding causes there when building costs and subsequent admission prices are already sky high, putting ordinary visitors off. If similar causes were funded elsewhere, these would be much cheaper, leaving more for good causes without any extra needing to be raised. Add to this the usual UK problem of millionaires being made out of those who run it far more easily than those who play it.
Luke, UK

I always thought the initial idea behind the lottery was to raise money for sports and arts which all too often miss out on government money. There have been some results from this but it does seem to have been completely hijacked by charities and "good causes" that seem to include public schools and Conservative MPs. There are too many vested interests in the committees that dole out the money and these need sorting out to prevent some of the outrageous decisions of the past.
G. Arnold, UK

Camelot have lined their own pockets, people are losing faith in them, it's time they went off with their ill-gotten loot. Lets get a People's Lottery, better ten prizes a week of one million each, or five of one million each and much larger prize values down the line. A change of operators to Branson is the another good step in the right direction. Get rid of all the hype and have a simple no-nonsense draw without the overpaid hangers-on.
Peter Nixon, England - USA

The people do not matter and money and greed rules

Gary Holcombe, UK
The lottery has never been run in the interests of the people, with reports of high salaries for its executives, payouts to stupid causes (i.e. the Dome) and very little actually given to the deserving causes, and when will they actually realise that their Wednesday and Saturday night programmes are very boring. Richards Branson's People's Lottery I believe would have been for the people, and the people would have seen changes made for the better. I also believe that the fact he lost his bid, shows that the views of the people do not matter and money and greed rules.
Gary Holcombe, UK

People must be completely mad to play the lottery. You might as well burn money. I've never bought and will never buy a lottery ticket. It is a marketing concept that relies for success on the inability of people to truly understand what 14 million to one really means. The TV adverts depict a giant sized finger coming out of the sky and pointing to someone with the line: "It could be you". The regulator should step in and insist that this is rephrased to read: "It isn't you, it isn't you, it isn't you" - 14 million times. As for the decline in the lottery's popularity, most people are really stupid - its just that its taken them all these years to finally figure it out.
Peter Swain, England

The National Lottery has been on a slippery slope since it introduced the Wednesday draw. This effectively doubled the weekly outlay for people with fixed lines, for who wanted to miss out on a mid-week win? Since then we now have Thunderball, Lottery Extra (twice a week?) - surely it's no surprise that people are walking away from it rather than risk not having a bet on when one of their fixed lines comes up on one of these draws!
Andrew, England

I think the novelty has well and truly worn off, due to too much hype. In addition, the biggest turn off for me is the abysmal backslapping TV programme (when just reading out the numbers would suffice). Camelot should go back to square one and start again!
Dave Lloyd, England

I stopped playing when the Richard Branson was hood winked out of the job. Ninety nine per cent of the country wanted him to get it and yet the Government managed to work the three-card trick and hey-presto Camelot got the job. Despite the reduction of pay-outs to the good causes I bet the fat cats at Camelot still rake in the cash.
Sean, GB

I think it's scandalous that a company should be given carte blanche to run the lottery and make a nice profit on the side. So firstly Camelot should find the shortfall from it's own profit and if necessary go into a loss for this year, like all companies have to do in the real world. Secondly I think Branson's non-profit lottery was by far the most obvious choice if we were to consider who would return most money for good causes. It was a political fix in my view though I cannot understand why other than the old boy network.
Keith Moffitt, Switzerland

The "idiot tax" has lost its appeal because, finally, the public have realised that they are being ripped off. However, unless another lottery operator was to significantly improve the odds of winning (and were seem to be doing so) this wouldn't change, regardless of the operator. You can fool some of the people some of the time etc...
Mark B, UK

Huge management bonuses, shady corporate goings-on, a five billion shortfall in revenue for worthy causes and I am STILL not a millionaire. Too right it has lost its appeal!

I never looked upon the Lottery as anything except a very remote chance that I could win enough money to retire on. The so-called "good causes" were never an incentive, as these causes are what I class as "nice-to-have"(at best) but far less important than "real" charities i.e. against homelessness, saving people's lives as opposed to improving Eton's playing fields or The Churchill papers etc. which the lottery has actually supported. And as for the money wasted on the Dome, that goes without saying. So whereas I am bored with the lottery, as in not winning the jackpot, it has nothing to do with less money going on good causes and nothing that would be better with Richard Branson running the lottery.
Phil J, England

Get a guaranteed return: set up a not-the-lottery syndicate. You and your workmates each chip in a pound every week into an interest-bearing account and once a year you all go out and have a good blow-out on the proceeds, thumbing your noses at your chums in the office lottery syndicate as you set off for your limo/restaurant/theatre trip, or whatever you've planned.
Paul, UK

As the chances of winning the lottery are lower than those of being struck by lightening, it is no wonder it is losing it's appeal.
Janet Gladstone, UK

The National Lottery is tax on stupidity. Perhaps people are starting to realise that.
Steve, England

Camelot appeared to have lined the pockets of the people who mattered when it came to contract renewal time, and once again sleaze reared its ugly head. Maybe Sir Richard isn't whiter than white himself, but he is a popular and recognisable figure, unlike anybody connected with Camelot.
Steve Cahill, England

The lottery is boring and people are waking up to the fact that it is just another form of taxation

Rory McKnight, UK
The lottery is boring and people are waking up to the fact that it is just another form of taxation. Richard Branson's People's lottery would make little change to people's indifference and apathy. Also I imagine his lottery would probably always be drawn an hour too late, a bit like the arrival times of his trains.
Rory McKnight, UK

People are bored with the Lottery and it passion for feathering the nests of the great and good. As a National Lottery it should be for all the people and not just the chosen few.
Chris Hobbs, UK

Yes I'm bored with it. I think it's overkill as it's in-your-face all the time on TV, billboards, in shops. I'm sure the novelty of watching the balls go round on TV has worn off by now! More aggressive advertising would only put people off more. A better idea may be to reduce the jackpot to a straight 1m and increase the value of some of the lower wins, like the 4-numbers prize.
Steve, UK

Another example of a failing public-private partnership. Lottery Commission incompetence coupled with Camelot's greed has produced a national lottery that no one has faith in.
Malcolm, Scotland

As with all competitions people will only lose for so long before giving up trying

Richard Wolff, England
I think people are steadily realising that their chances of winning a reasonable amount on the lottery are so remote that it is a waste of time trying.
Think of all the people you know at work, friends and family and then ask yourself, how many of these have won more than say 2000 since the lottery started? As with all competitions people will only lose for so long before giving up trying.
Richard Wolff, England

The reason I feel it's losing it's appeal is that most people want the money for good causes spent on areas of peoples health and education and NOT on making giant pebbles known as modern "art".
Jason Waldron, England

I don't think it would matter if Beelzebub ran the lottery. People play for one reason only - to win megabucks. The amount given to good causes is incidental, and the people who get all indignant that not enough money is going to the causes, or that it's going to the 'wrong' causes, are hypocrites. If they really wanted to give money to a cause of their choice they could do it directly.
Lyn Jones, England

Was the Dome of more benefit to the country - then a new Children's Hospital?

Richard, England
Camelot coupled with the BBC TV show, has led me to be completely bored with the Lottery. If the People's Lottery had taken over, nearly ALL the money would be going to good causes. Also, the BBC should just broadcast the results at 20:00 and not bother with a "show". The amount of money wasted on the Dome also has led to me not bother playing. Was the Dome of more benefit to the country - then a new Children's Hospital?
Richard, England

Camelot's mistake has been to pursue too many different games in the interests of achieving growth. A return to a single weekly draw would in my opinion take us back towards the very large prizes that were the basic appeal of the National Lottery
Rodger Edwards, UK

I would play more often if there was a better chance of winning. Reduce the top prize or get rid of the 'five plus bonus ball', the payback for getting five numbers is too low.
Mark Clover, England

Richard Smart, England

I became bored with the lottery ages ago. Why waste money on employing celebrities to put on an often rubbish show before the actual draw. Since 99% of people just want to see the actual draw itself, why not give the show a 2-minute slot on a Saturday evening, just for the draw?
James, UK

There was bound to be a drop off in sales as the novelty wears off. It seemed to me that this started when the midweek draw was introduced. In my view, Richard Branson's bid should have been accepted. This would have generated renewed interest and revenue.
Richard Inglesfield, England

People are becoming complacent about the lottery because it is like throwing a penny into a wishing well

Zena, Scotland
People are becoming complacent about the lottery because it is like throwing a penny into a wishing well - it is highly unlikely that you are going to benefit. There is also the fact that you do not feel that you are giving directly to good causes rather the fat cats bonuses. It is better to give to the person standing with a can on the street corner. One winner of 17 million is ridiculous compared to 17 winner of 1 million, or even 34 winners of 0.5 million.
Zena, Scotland

The prizes need to be smaller but easier to win, what is the point of people winning more than about 2 or 3 million? That's enough to give up work and lead a pretty damn good life. I believe people would regain their enthusiasm if there was a reasonable chance of winning a couple of hundred pounds (or even a 100 or 50) each week, than dreaming of 10m and get 10 if they are lucky.
Secondly, The fact that the lottery is run by a profit making organisation is an absolute disgrace, other than the chance to win, I imagine the majority of people bought into the idea that their money would go almost exclusively to prizes and good courses, and yet again we end up lining business men and womens pockets. Is no one capable of putting an ideal above profit?
Mark Goble, UK

Camelot's bid should not have been believed (and I expect it never believed it itself)

Richard, UK
Camelot's bid should not have been believed (and I expect it never believed it itself). Most people preferred the principle of the People's Lottery anyway, whether or not Branson had anything to do with it. If Camelot cannot raise the 5bn as promised, they could at least donate the massive bonuses they gave themselves on retaining the licence to help make up some of their shortfall.
Richard, UK

Perhaps Camelot should be held responsible for the shortfall, and made to pay it.
John Bennett, Berkshire, UK

A lot of people have finally realised what a poor bet the National Lottery is. I prefer to make charity donations directly to those whom I feel to be most deserving.
John B, UK

Lotteries are popular all over the world, and obviously its the big bucks that lure the punters. But its got to be more than churning out six numbers from a barrel. Presumably hoping you are going to be the big winner. I think more variations of the game are required. We have lotteries in New Zealand and they are on a lot smaller scale than the UK, and I might add cheaper to play. One of our lotteries is called Tele Bingo it ran for five years. People do get tired of laying out money week after week and not getting any return. But then again it's the carrot at the end that draws the punters.
Ron Kirk, New Zealand

Yes, the lottery is losing its appeal. I feel there should be a better distribution of prize money at the lower end. The top prize should be limited to say 2m, enough for any top winner, allowing a better share out among the other winners. 10 for 3 numbers is not enough to make me want to play.
Tom Wetherby, England

Despite the guilt appeasement mechanism that this is "for good causes" the ultimate motivation to play is greed

Peter Vincent, Scotland
People will only pay into the lottery if it pays out. After all, despite the guilt appeasement mechanism that this is "for good causes" the ultimate motivation to play is greed. When then be surprised that people stop playing when the pay out percentage is so low?
Peter Vincent, Scotland

The Labour Party promised us a non-profit making lottery. When they re-awarded the lottery to Camelot I stopped buying lottery tickets, and I won't buy another one until it is run by a non-profit making organisation.
Paul, England

The National Lottery is a voluntary tax on the mathematically challenged.
Martin, England

People only have X amount of money to spend on chance. With the advent of hordes of scratchcards etc it is inevitable that sales will drop. I think it would have been better not to have had a mid-week draw but to have left just Saturday's draw with a bigger prize.
Joan Clark, England

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

27 Jun 01 | Business
Camelot faces 'charity shortfall'
24 May 01 | Business
Camelot hit by big fall in sales
19 Dec 00 | Business
Camelot: Back from the brink
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Talking Point stories