Former Prime Minister John Major has accused the government of "grand larceny" for using lottery funds for the environment, health and education.
Mr Major helped set up the lottery 10 years ago
Mr Major, who set up the lottery, said money meant for traditionally under-funded areas like art, sport and heritage was being siphoned off.
"This is now being used as substituted government funding, that is not what it was intended for," he told the BBC.
But Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said the lottery was being "re-energised".
Mr Major's comments come two weeks before the 10th anniversary of the National Lottery on 6 November.
In the 1994 formulation, from every pound spent on a lottery ticket, 28 pence went towards the original five good causes - arts, charities, heritage, Millennium Commission and sports.
Mr Major said when he established the lottery he wanted the money to go to art, sport and heritage because they would never compete with education, defence and pensions for funding.
But health, education and the environment were designated a good cause in 1999 to replace the Millennium Commission.
The Sunday Times reported that of total grants last year of £1.5bn, nearly £700m had gone to environment, health and education.
Mr Major told BBC 1's Breakfast with Frost: "You can argue how much [money] has gone but certainly a quarter, and possibly half, it depends on how you use the definitions.
"That's money that was never intended to be used for government purposes, we agreed it, the then Labour opposition agreed it, and they backtracked and changed their mind and took this money. I think that is grand larceny."
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said Ms Jowell respected the role Mr Major played in setting up the lottery, but said it had moved on and was evolving.
The government is looking into setting up "citizens' panels" to allow people to decide where some of the lottery money should go.
Ms Jowell told the Sunday Times: "John Major might have founded the lottery, but we are re-energising it.
"He deserves credit, but since his time it has become bigger than he ever imagined. The good causes now have a broader appeal. Giving the public a voice in awarding lottery grants is hardly grand larceny."