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Shropshire Star comment: Lottery is a way for all to win

By Toby Neal | Opinions | Published:

As it is a time when thoughts are turning to the legacies of Prime Ministers, let us recall one of the principal legacies of Sir John Major.

Preparing for the first National Lottery draw were original presenters Gordon Kennedy, Noel Edmonds and Anthea Turner

He was the man behind much of Britain’s growing Olympic medal haul since the 1990s.

It was under his administration that the National Lottery Act became law. And the lottery has been behind a major increase in the amount of cash which has flooded into funding UK sport, leading to spectacular success across a number of disciplines.

It is 25 years since Camelot was awarded the franchise to run the lottery. There have been those lucky few for whom buying a winning ticket has transformed their lives and fulfilled their dreams, but we should remember that there are also the many who have benefited, thanks to the support the lottery has given to worthy causes.

Much play was made of that when the lottery was conceived and launched. This was not billed as a way to get millions of adults to spend their money gambling. It would, the public was told, ensure that the arts, and other aspects of life, which ordinarily find it difficult to get cash, would receive an injection of money to support them.

That promise has been kept. According to Camelot’s chief executive Nigel Railton, over the last 25 years the National Lottery has helped raise more than £39 billion for good causes.

That principle, that the lottery provides a cash pot for things which are not essential but are desirable and contribute to quality of life, needs to be closely guarded. There needs to be a watchful eye kept on the way it operates to ensure governments don’t try to get away with raiding the fund to pay for things which should be paid for through taxes. That’s not what the lottery is supposed to be about.

Those who buy the tickets are tellingly called “players,” rather than “gamblers,” with all its overtones, and it does seem that it is in the spirit of “play” that the vast majority take part. In any event, the lottery of itself doesn’t appear to have turned Britain into a nation of gambling addicts.

It Could Be You, goes the slogan. Statistically, it probably won’t be. But thanks to its support for good causes, with the National Lottery everyone has been a winner.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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