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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 August, 2004, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Prison lottery rules in spotlight
Lottery tickets
Released prisoners are banned from betting but not doing lottery
The Home Office and National Lottery operator Camelot are facing calls for prisoners to be banned from buying Lotto tickets after a sex offender won 7m.

Prisoners are already banned from gambling. Could taking part in the lottery be added?

Inside jail, prisoners are not allowed to buy Premium Bonds or take part in the pools under an umbrella ban on gambling.

The National Lottery is not specifically mentioned in the rules but is understood to be included, said a Prison Service spokesman.

A ban on buying lottery tickets wouldn't work
Mark Leech
Prisons Handbook

However, the rules for prisoners on a temporary release licence, like Lotto Extra winner Iorworth Hoare, who is serving a life sentence for attempted rape, are different.

These licences are issued to prisoners by prison governors and come with conditions attached.

They include specific terms for each individual related to their crime, including bans on entering certain areas and contacting certain people.

Millionaire novelist Jeffrey Archer was moved from an open prison to a closed one in 2002 after he broke the rules of his home visit by having lunch with an off-duty prison officer.

All licences include a general ban on entering licensed public houses and licensed betting shops, and drinking any alcohol.

Mark Leech, editor of The Prisons Handbook, said it would be difficult to add a ban on buying lottery tickets to the conditions because of the wide range of places they can be bought.

"That would mean preventing them from entering shops, post offices and garages. It wouldn't work," he said.

Prize money rules

Instead, he suggested, it would be easier to just insert a "no gambling" clause into the rules.

"Then it would be up to a court to decide if doing the National Lottery was gambling, and I think it would."

The change could be instigated almost immediately by the Home Office, however it has denied any plans are afoot.

"I'm not aware that any changes are being considered," said a spokesman.

An alternative would be for Camelot to change its rules so that a prisoner could not profit from a win.

Currently, as long as someone is over 16 and not an employee or living with an employee of Camelot, they can play and are entitled to any prize.

However, the company batted responsibility for the apparent loophole in the gambling rules back to the Prison Service.

A spokesman told BBC News Online that as Camelot's rules were governed by the National Lottery Commission, any changes would have to come from it.

He added: "The rules on what prisoners can and cannot do are set out by the Prison Service."

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06 Jul 04  |  Norfolk
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06 Aug 04  |  Northern Ireland
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07 Nov 02  |  England

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