The National Lottery
Gambling and grants for good causes: a complex issue.
- Isn't the Methodist Church opposed to gambling?
The Methodist Church's general approach to the National Lottery, as with other forms of gambling, is to press for safeguards to protect people from harm as a result of gambling. Some gambling activities are particularly harmful, and certain groups of people are particularly vulnerable to this harm. In addition, even softer forms of gambling such as National Lottery may become a cause for concern if they further the normalisation of gambling beyond its appropriate role in society, or if they lead gamblers on to more harmful kinds of gambling.
- Are Methodists allowed to apply for Lottery grants?
The National Lottery was adopted by the Methodist Conference in 1999. The resolutions of the report allowed Methodist Churches to consider applying for money from the National Lottery, for good causes. A later resolution extended this permission to allow Lottery funding to be used by any fund.
- But surely there are concerns about the Lottery?
The gambling landscape has changed dramatically since the creation of the National Lottery. Following the Gambling Act 2005, the prevalence of gambling and gambling advertising have increased greatly in the UK. In the most recent Gambling Prevalence Survey, almost 50% of those polled said they had played the National Lottery in the last week.
The Methodist Church has continued to raise concerns about the effects of normalising gambling: however it is not clear from the evidence whether the National Lottery has caused an increase in problem gambling or not.
The Methodist Church also monitors the prevalence of gambling among young people, particularly young people, to ensure that the Lottery is not leading this vulnerable group into problem gambling.
One recent trend is towards harder forms of gambling through lotteries. For example, the design of scratch cards enables, or even encourages, people to "chase their losses" and so people risk gambling, and losing, more than they intend. This risk has been increased by Camelot's recent introduction of £10 scratch cards which have a maximum prize of £4 million
In summary, at present the National Lottery does not seem to be a major driver of problem gambling, but if future studies strengthen evidence for a link between Lottery participation and future problem addiction, this would cause us to reevaluate the seriousness of the National Lottery.
- Can the Methodist Church have any influence for good?
Officers of the church have regular meetings with the Gambling Commission, which regulates of the Lottery, and with Camelot, which runs the Lottery, at which we are able to learn about the future directions of the Lottery and to express any concerns. They are both aware of the power that the Lottery has and the need to ensure that it is run as well as possible.
- How does the Church help those with gambling problems?
There is no formal Methodist system of support for people who are harmed by gambling, through the Lottery or otherwise. However many self-help groups such as Gamblers Anonymous meet on Methodist Church premises.
If you or someone known to you is having problems with gambling, you can contact the GamCare helpline
- For further information...