A cross-party group of UK Members of Parliament has urged ministers to take into consideration possible action against Camelot, the operator of the National Lottery, saying that a move towards games offered through mobile applications rather than measures against traditional lottery draws could risk making the situations with gambling addiction worse. The group also noted that such measures could also reduce the amounts received by local charities and good causes.
The calls from the Labour and Conservative Members of Parliament come after the National Lottery operator issued its most recent results, showing that so-called instant win games that are mostly available online accounted for two-thirds of the company’s sales growth in the past two years. Reportedly, the mobile sales of Camelot Group increased from £1.606 billion in 2020 to £2.482 billion in 2021. The massive digitalisation was partly caused by lengthy coronavirus lockdowns.
As revealed by the Members of Parliament from the cross-party group, 9% of the proceeds generated by so-called instant win games, including online games and scratchcards, are donated to good causes in local communities. In comparison, draw-based lottery games donate 31% of their proceeds. They also shared that the overall sales contributions rates had declined to 21% in 2020-2021 from 28% in 2012-2013.
Previously, ministers have shared their concern that the ongoing digitalisation in the National Lottery could cause an increase in problem gambling rates in the country. As Casino Guardian reported earlier this year, the minimum age for participation in the games and draws offered by the National Lottery has been increased from 16 to 18 as part of the measures aimed at protecting more vulnerable customers from possible gambling-related harm.
Contributions to Good Causes Also Increase, National Lottery Operator Says
Camelot Group, which is willing to keep the operating license for the National Lottery it has held since 1994, has said that the increase registered in the online sales also includes regular draws which customers bought via the mobile application and further explained that the change in the numbers game as part of a wider change in gambling patterns in the country. Camelot Group further noted that the overall contributions to good causes have continued to increase and argued that it has a good record on gambling addiction and gambling-related harm.
In its annual report, which was published in June, Camelot Group reported a growth in sales through its mobile application and also noted that the increase was largely due to the increased traffic to digital channels associated with the coronavirus pandemic and Covid-19-related lockdowns.
Previously, a group of seven Tory members have warned about the business model of the gambling company, saying that it was high time to get someone who can operate the UK National Lottery properly. They believe that people still have trust in the National Lottery as a brand and want to be part of its charitable work. However, they criticised the controversial instant win games, describing such games as a more dangerous form of gambling, which could put vulnerable customers at risk of becoming affected by gambling-related harm.
As mentioned above, the National Lottery operator says app-based games had existed for more than half a decade now, with sales growing in line with wider trends in the sector. Camelot Group has also highlighted the fact that app-based gaming had generally risen across the UK amid the restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, which stipped people of some entertainment opportunities for quite some time.