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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 November, 2004, 01:33 GMT
A decade of winning (and losing)
The national lottery is 10 years old this weekend, and through the creation of hundreds of millionaires and the funding of thousands of worthy causes - and a few considered not so worthy - it has become a major feature of British life.

Millennium Dome
Surely the definitive lottery-funded 'white elephant'
Seven jackpot winners won around 800,000 each in the first draw on 19 November 1994.

Since then the lottery has created more than 1,700 millionaires, who in turn have created over 700 more by sharing their winnings.

The draw has also raised 16bn for more than 180,000 "good causes" in 10 years, but there has been frequent controversy over where the money has gone.

The most spectacular "white elephant" funded by the lottery was the Millennium Dome.

After 449m of lottery cash helped build the attraction, it had to ask for 179m more to stay open when visitor numbers fell millions short of targets.

Eden Project
The Eden Project has employed more than 600 local people
There was a similar lack of interest in the National Centre for Popular Music in Sheffield, paid for with 11m of lottery money, and the music stopped after 16 months.

Meanwhile, grants of 78.5m to the Royal Opera House and 73m to Sadler's Wells Theatre prompted charges of elitism.

The companies distributing lottery funds complain that while big projects attract often negative attention, thousands of small community schemes go unnoticed.


There have been large-scale successes paid for by the lottery: the Eden Project, in Cornwall, received 53m but is estimated to have generated 500m for the region.

Facts and figures about a decade of the National Lottery

Meanwhile the Tate Modern, set up with the help of a 57m grant, has become one of London's top attractions.

The Labour government has attracted criticism since its 1997 move to divert lottery money into health and education programmes usually paid for from tax revenue.

Former prime minister John Major, who set up the lottery, last month accused the government of "grand larceny" of money meant for traditionally under-funded areas such as art, sport and heritage.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said the lottery was being "re-energised" and that "good causes now have a broader appeal".


A months-long row in 2002, over grants to an organisation that opposed removal of failed asylum-seekers, led to a tightening of rules on applying for lottery money.

Operator Camelot's running of the lottery has also not been without controversy, particularly over the size of profits and bonuses to executives.

Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson has twice missed out on the lottery licence
Camelot argues that it runs the lottery on costs that are 4.5% of sales, compared with an average of 14% among other European lotteries.

"Over the 10 years since launch, this represents an additional 3bn for players and 'good causes'," said chief executive Dianne Thompson.

The bidding process for the second licence to run the lottery from 2001 to 2008 turned into a prolonged saga.

Sir Richard Branson, who had lost a hard-fought battle for the first licence, again squared up against Camelot in 2000.

Camelot eventually triumphed, but only after a High Court challenge against its exclusion from the process, and the resignation of National Lottery Commission chair Dame Helena Shovelton over her treatment by the press.

Winners and losers

Lottery winners have given the media a steady supply of positive human interest stories over the last 10 years.

One of the most heart-warming tales was that of 58-year-old Belfast woman Iris Jeffrey.

Iris Jeffrey
Iris Jeffrey said one of her first buys would be a new washing machine
She was undergoing treatment for cancer of the gullet earlier this year when she became the UK's single biggest lottery winner, scooping 20.1m.

She said that when she found out she "had a glass of milk and went to bed".

Mrs Jeffrey was told last month that her cancer was in remission.

The example of worst luck, or perhaps most extreme carelessness, is possibly that of Martyn and Kay Tott, who did not realise they had the winning numbers for 6 September 2000 and missed the 30-day deadline to collect.

The Watford couple missed out on a little over 3m.


Former dustman Michael Carroll was dubbed the "Lotto lout" by tabloids when he won 9.7m as a 19-year-old in 2002.

Lotto winner
Michael Carroll was dubbed the 'Lotto lout'
He was electronically tagged for drunk and disorderly behaviour at the time and had previous convictions including criminal damage and aggravated vehicle-taking.

The new millionaire pledged to stay out of trouble, but has clashed with his local council and neighbours over noise and was convicted of cocaine possession in March.

Rules on prisoners playing the lottery came under the spotlight in April when convicted rapist Iorworth Hoare, 52, won 7m after buying a ticket while on release from an open prison.


"Don't live a little, live a Lotto," Billy Connolly urged Britain in adverts in 2002, as part of a 72m lottery relaunch aimed at reversing declining sales.

Billy Connolly in a Lotto advert
'Most irritating' - the Big Yin's Lotto adverts
The ads were voted the year's most irritating commercial by trade journal Marketing.

Camelot reported an increase in sales for the first time in six years in April, following the launch of new Daily Play and EuroMillions games.

Ms Thompson said the "flow of funds to 'good causes' is building... bucking the global trend of falling Lotto sales".

After a decade of winning and losing, Britons still fancy their one in 13m chance of striking it lucky.

Your comments

For every one "It could be you." advert they should be compelled to show 100000 "But it probably won't be." ads. This may finally get across to the British people that they are only going to get rich by working for a living not waiting for a lottery win that, even if they play every week for a lifetime, will almost certainly not occur.
Mark K, London, UK

The success stories outweigh those of failure
Chris, Newcastle, UK
I recall spending 5 on the very first lottery draw all those years ago. Sat in front of the TV was quite an occasion for this new national phenomenon especially when we found we'd won 10. Then, 4 years ago we discovered we had 4 numbers - only to find it was the lowest ever payout at a miserly 34. Since then the odds on our 1 per week have been proven true. Nonetheless, whilst it may be accused of encouraging a more gambling acceptant society I believe the success stories outweigh those of failure. As they say, "It could be you....but it almost certainly isn't."
Chris, Newcastle, UK

It is shame that there have been suggestions of elitism. Some Lottery funding should have been spent on encouraging people of all creeds to attend the theatre and opera.
Dan Ames, London

Most people I know stopped putting money on the lottery a few years ago. There is such a remote chance of actually winning anything you have a better chance of making money by depositing the 1 a week into a savings account. In the 10 years I have taken part I have only won 10 on one occasion and that was right at the start - since then I have given away more than I have won. Think if there was more of a chance of winning, even if it was more smaller prizes, then you would be more likely to take part.
Sarah, Wirral, UK

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