Northumberland County Council plans to launch its own lottery to support community projects

Northumberland County Council is looking to set up its own lottery, with at least half of every ticket sold going to support local good causes.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 08 July, 2019, 15:49
Picture c/o Pixabay

People would be able to buy £1 tickets from a website and choose which local charity or group they wished to support, with 50p of each ticket going to the selected good cause.

Of the other half, 10p would go to the council to cover the running costs, with any excess going into the Community Chest scheme, while 37p would go to Gatherwell, a management service which runs lotteries for around 80 local authorities nationally (20p for the prize fund and 17p for admin costs). The final 3p is VAT.

Players choose six numbers from 0 to 9, with prizes ranging from three free tickets for matching two numbers up to £25,000 for getting all six – albeit the odds of this are a million to one.

The proposal is up for approval at the August meeting of the council’s cabinet, but was discussed on July 8 at the corporate services committee.

The lottery would be run by the county council via Gatherwell’s online platform, meaning the council controls oversight and governance as well as being responsible for obtaining an licence from the Gambling Commission.

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But the prize fund is underwritten by Gatherwell, so there is no risk or exposure to the council.

Coun Catherine Seymour appreciated the idea of supporting good causes, however, she didn’t ‘feel comfortable that we are encouraging gambling’.

Coun Nick Oliver, the cabinet member for corporate services, said he shared those concerns initially, but said this was a “community engagement exercise and there are restrictions in place”.

The proposed initial set-up costs to the council of £8,850 are expected to result in a shortfall of around £5,600 in 2019-20 – with the current aim of launching the lottery later this year – but be fully recovered by year two based on forecast ticket sales.

Annual recurring costs for licences and membership of the Lotteries Council, plus a recommended yearly marketing budget of £2,000, would total £3,820, but it is estimated that this would be covered from the 10 per cent of ticket sales the council would receive.