Memorandum submitted by The Methodist
I would like to make a short submission on behalf
of the Methodist Church to the inquiry by the Culture, Media and
Sport Committee into the Operation of the National Lottery.
The Methodist Church has maintained an interest
in the National Lottery since it was first proposed.
Following lengthy reflection the Methodist governing
body, the Methodist Conference, agreed in 1999 that churches should
be allowed to apply for Lottery funding through good causes, but
that such applications should be particularly sensitive to the
feelings of their natural constituency and supporters. This decision
followed a prohibition on applications, and reflected a recognition
of the position of the Lottery and of the changes it had made
to the landscape of charitable funding.
The Church still has particular concerns about
the National Lottery which are of relevance to the inquiry.
We appreciate that both Camelot and the National
Lottery have made a crackdown on under-age play a major priority.
However it is apparent that even these efforts are proving insufficient.
Recent research showed 17.7 per cent (one in six) of young people
aged 12-15 had spent their own money in the previous week on Lottery
tickets (buying them themselves or through adults). 1.7 per cent
are already classified as problem gamblers with Lottery Instants.
Other research has shown that the majority of
people who have a serious problem with gambling began to gamble
in their early teens. In other words, the younger someone begins
gambling, the more likely they are to develop problem gambling
at a later stage. Under-age participation in the Lottery is therefore
In response the Churches, together with the
Gaming Board and various research bodies, support raising the
minimum playing age for the National Lottery from 16 to 18 years
old. This would help to exclude the 14 and 15 year olds who can
pass for 16, but who do not look 18, from buying tickets unchallenged.
The minimum age for playing lotteries across
America and the rest of Europe is 18. The UK Lottery is out of
step here. Gambling, even in the form of the National Lottery,
must be seen as an activity for adults. Raising the minimum playing
age to 18 would assist in this.
Churches are concerned about the way in which
the National Lottery has distorted the sources of funding for
the voluntary sector. Organisations can feel compelled to apply
for Lottery funding as the expectation is that any application
for voluntary sector funding will be match-funded by the Lottery
or at least preceded by a Lottery bid. Some churches do not wish
to apply for Lottery funding on moral grounds and this places
them in a difficult position.
Representatives of the Methodist Church meet
regularly with the National Lottery Commission. We are encouraged
that they share our concerns about under-age play, and also about
the dangers of games which promote rapid re-playing, or encourage
people to chase their losses. However we would wish strongly to
restate our opposition to the introduction of any new games which
can lead to excessive play and problem gambling. We were glad
to see the collapse of the Pronto! project.
The Lottery was founded on the principle of
additionalitythat Lottery funding should not be used to
replace taxpayer's money. The New Opportunities Fund, whilst funding
many worthwhile projects, has undermined this principle of additionality.
Health and education projects are key to the Government's strategy
for tackling social exclusion, and, as a consequence, the direction
of NOF programmes will be set by the Secretary of State. But mainstream
Government programmes should be funded out of general expenditure,
not from Lottery money. We would also like to see the principle
of additionality within the Lottery upheld, and Lottery distributors
given discretion over programmes and projects.
I hope that these comments will be helpful for
the inquiry. We look forward to seeing the outcome.