Media group launches commercial lottery

media captionHealth Lottery chief executive Martin Hall: "If we're giving more in prizes, there is less to give away"

A new commercial lottery says it aims to raise £50m a year for health causes across Britain.

The Health Lottery, run by the Northern & Shell media company which owns Express newspapers and Channel 5, will offer a top prize of up to £100,000.

It will donate 20.34p per £1 ticket to charity, compared with 28p for every National Lottery ticket.

The charitable donation has been described as a "pretty disgraceful development" by a charity chief.

Health Lottery chief executive Martin Hall said the game would ultimately pay out a greater proportion of income in prizes than the National Lottery does, with 57p on every ticket being returned in prizes.

But Sir Stephen Bubb, of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, said Northern & Shell owner Richard Desmond was "profiteering on the back of charities".

"The National Lottery gives 28p, if he cares about health charities he should match that figure or he should close it down," he told the BBC.

"I suspect this is more about making profits for this new venture than it is to give money to health charities."

He said ticket sales for the National Lottery would fall and charities generally would get less money if Mr Desmond's new lottery competed with it.

'Real impacts'

The Health Lottery has been set up to oversee 51 society lotteries, each representing a different area in England, Wales and Scotland.

As a society lottery, the draws will be exempt from the 12p in duty paid on each pound of National Lottery sales.

The Health Lottery expects that £50m will be donated to health-related causes, based on projected annual ticket sales of £250m.

That compares to the £270m the National Lottery is said to have given health-related charities last year out of total donations of £1.6bn and overall sales of £5.8bn.

Donations from the Health Lottery could include money to cover respite care and counselling for young carers, and specialist nurses for conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, but the aim is not to subsidise or finance NHS projects, organisers said.

The money raised by the Health Lottery will be distributed by the People's Health Trust.

John Hume, chief executive of the People's Health Trust, said: "We will be working directly with communities to identify practical and sustainable ways in which funding from the Health Lottery can have real impacts on health and well-being in communities experiencing significant disadvantages."

Tickets will go on sale on Thursday, backed by a £20m publicity campaign. The draw will be presented by Eamonn Holmes and shown in adverts on Saturday evenings on ITV 1 and Channel 5.

Any player selecting five matching numbers from 50 will win £100,000. Four matching numbers wins £500, while three will collect £50.

More than 40,000 retailers have signed up to sell tickets, which is believed to be about 12,000 more than the National Lottery has.

Northern & Shell is understood to have already spent about £30m in set-up costs.

The company has not disclosed how much profit it eventually envisages to make from the Health Lottery.

Camelot, which runs the National Lottery under licence, is allowed to make a 0.5% profit on each ticket sold.

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