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Saturday, September 19, 1998 Published at 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK


Rural areas could be Lottery losers

Taking a gamble: Camelot has the last word on changes

People living in small rural communities could lose their chance to become National Lottery millionaires if the Post Office carries out its threat to remove terminals from sub post offices failing to sell enough tickets.

The BBC's Nick Higham tells of the effects of the move on a rural community
The Post Office has given sub-postmasters three months to reach a sales target of at least 2,000 worth of tickets a week, or lose their machines.

The move has sparked anger in rural areas where the sub post office is often the only shop in the village.

Critics believe that, as well as denying people easy access to play the National Lottery, removing terminals could damage struggling post office businesses, which increase sales of other goods when people go in twice a week to buy a Lottery ticket.

But Post Office Counters said it made commercial sense to site the terminals where there was "clear demand".

[ image: Rural post offices will have to boost sales]
Rural post offices will have to boost sales
It said: "This has always been the case and it is inevitable that if ticket sales fall to very low levels the business must consider relocating the terminal.

"We recognise that in some rural areas some post offices provide the only National Lottery terminal within miles.

"Naturally we take into account the importance of any terminal to the local community."

Camelot has the final say over which post offices have terminals.

It has appealed to the Post Office not to take away the service from some of the shops on its list.

[ image: People can still play by subscription, says Camelot]
People can still play by subscription, says Camelot
People without access to a terminal could still play the National Lottery by subscription, it added.

But Camelot said it had to be prepared to "compromise" with Post Office Counters.

"Obviously the Post Office serves a lot of rural communities so we will do our utmost to make sure that although terminals won't be located in the village they will be relocated within a one or two-mile radius," a spokeswoman said.

"We are doing our best to make sure that the players get the sort of allocation that they need."

Labour MP for Furness John Hutton said he was opposing the plan, which could leave part of his constituency without any access to the Lottery.

He had urged National Lottery operator Camelot and Post Office Counters to change their minds, he said.

"I do not accept that Post Office Counters should be allowed to remove this lottery outlet simply to sustain their own profit levels," he said.

"It is not good news for rural sub post offices, which are an important point of access into the National Lottery."

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