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Making a Lottery of Good Causes
The National Lottery & the Politicisation of Charity

By Roger Cummins & Robert Whelan
Apr. 1995
Institute of Economic Affairs
ISBN: 0-255-36362-1
28 p.
$7.95 Paper Original

The national Lottery Act of 1993 lifted the ban on national lotteries which had been in place in Britain for over 160 years. The Lottery was promoted asa means of raising funds for good causes, with 28p in every pound divided between the arts, sport, heritage, the Millenium Fund and charities. However, the disputes over the way in which these funds have been applied to the various causes have become increasingly bitter, pitting opera lovers against cancer research.

In Making a Lottery of Good Causes the authors argue that the connection between the Lottery and good causes should be severed. The charitable sector may be the overall loser if people reduce their charitable giving, under the impression that they have already contributed by buying lottery tickets, but even if the volume of funds were to remain unchanged, the fact that lottery grants are disbursed through a political process can only lead to the further politicisation of the voluntary sector. The state will increasingly be in a position to dictate the very nature of philanthropic activity, by setting the conditions for lottery funding.

The authors recommend that the national Lottery should be disbanded and the lottery market opened up to competing private lotteries, whether in the charitable or the for-profit sector. The government's role would become purely regulatory. Gamblers would then support whichever lottery offered the most appealing terms, taking into account whether or not they wished to support any good cause at the same time.

Political Science
Series: Choice in Welfare