Many of us (70% now and some 95% have done so in the past) play the National Lottery (now called lotto, since rebranded in 2002 to try and counter falling sales!) –some 50 million tickets sold now per week. It was first introduced in 1994 (nearly 20 years ago, but we have steadily fallen out of love with it!), named as ‘The National Lottery’, under a Conservative government (Tory PM John Major) as a state authorised franchise (also covering the Isle of Man country!). It was awarded to Camelot, an American company running lotteries throughout the world.
The first UK Saturday draw was on TV with the renowned Noel Edmonds himself presenting. Two years later in 1996 the terminals failed due to the high volume of traffic! An additional Wednesday draw was started in 1997 – which increased our determination to ‘be in it to win it’, so loose even more of our money
It was an immediate success, and grabbed the imagination of the British public – and took over from the football pools as the main ‘dream generator’ of us the gullible community. We all knew it was ‘gambling’, but we played the game anyway (so called, but in reality it was anything but!), and we ignored the fact that the odds were massively stacked against us winning anything really worthwhile and changing our life (for example over 13 million to 1 of winning the Jackpot!) [Most punters lose some £150 each year].
The government’s promise initially was that the profit income would go to so called ‘good causes’ (a measly 28% actually), and would not be used for items that should rightly be covered by our government – but you know our politicians, that 5%), didn’t last too long (it was so easy for them to muddy-up the situation and use some of the money inappropriately!).
Also, of course Camelot always took a massive rake-off themselves (and so made a lot of money – £47million in 2011/12, and pay controversial massive bonuses to their Executives [in addition to a 12% ‘stealth’ tax skimmed of by the government itself, and the retailers commissions costing 5%, and apart from the operating costs (4.5%) , with only 50% actually going back in prizes].
While it is true that Camelot ran the lottery well and professionally, and they got an extension in 2002, but when their contract then was up in 2007, they failed to win the bid for the next tranche – it was to be awarded to Richard Branson’s consortium company The People’s Lottery group, comprises of impressive partners Microsoft, Walter Thompson, Kellogg, AWI, KPMG Consulting and Cisco Systems, who bid on the basis of doing so on running it on a non-profit making basis – ALL the money made would go to the good causes with no rake-off for themselves!
The British people breathed a sigh of relief at this (their hard earned money would do the maximum of good and they still could dream of become millionaires – the result of the bid announcement was greeted with great enthusiasm. But we didn’t envisage then the resilience of the hard-nosed Americans – who immediately appealed and surprisingly was allowed to rebid!
Somehow the powers that be were seduced by the powerful Camelot organisation, who also then claimed that they had the nounce & ability to substantially increase the lottery income, and they promised to give substantially more money to the good causes. One can only speculate & fear about what skulduggery went on behind the scenes, but against public opinion they re-won the contract. And of course they FAILED to provide the promised performance! In fact Camelot is drawing in about only half of what was coming in at the peak – hardly a performance to be proud of is it?
Camelot also runs a successful scratch-cards operation (scam?) as part of the lottery (providing instant wins) – claiming unattractive & somewhat dubious odds of winning (how can getting your stake back be classified as ‘winning’?). Unsurprisingly they then kept raising the cost of these cards. The saddos amongst us, well into such gambling, continued to buy them of course, rather than feed their kids!
A number of Camelot’s games have fallen by the wayside over the years when they were not successful – Lotto Plus 5, Lotto Extra, Dream Number, Daily Play, In 2004 Camelot also launched a-European lottery called EuroMillions.. The UK, France and Spain were there initially, then Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Switzerland. The odds of winning this Jackpot are 116 million to 1, and tickets cost £2 now, but many of us still dip in!
The most recent move by Camelot (tomorrow Saturday 5th October 2013) is to DOUBLE the cost of a lotto ticket (£2 now instead of £1) – just as they did previously with the Euro Millions lottery ticket They have done this at the worst time possible, at a time when the poorest in our society are under the cosh from the Coalition’s severe austerity measures – precisely the people who buy lotto tickets, in an ever desperate hope to get rich & enjoy life without the constant struggle to make ends meet! Of course Camelot are on a mission now to promote the benefits of the double price (evidently once again claiming that they will raise more money), but it is all smoke and mirrors! [They are including a ‘free’ raffle entry with one thosand prizes of £20K – hoping that punters are so stupid to work out that there isn’t that much chance of winning if 30 million play!].
The most likely outcome is that fewer people will now play lotto (many players will boycott it now; will YOU?) – Whether Camelot will pull in the same money, with say half the number of people, we will have to wait and see – but getting a massive increase in income is doubtful! Many of us might switch to say the Health Lottery (launched in 2011) and is operated by Northern and Shell, a British TV and Publishing group – which has some public approval in principle because of the money use (NHS), and the costs remain at a £1 stake, so we will see later (it doesn’t have the same visibility or advertising power as Camelot of course).
[People might even go for the People;s Postcode Lottery, but that costs £10 per month, but with more draws!].
[Many other counties can run their national lottery without the likes of Camelot, and Britain is a disgrace in allowing this company to rip us off, and do exactly what they want with no say and no control from us the public or the government of the day! (Britain is the 7th kargest lottery in the world by sales)].