What’s your Lottery fantasy? Retiring to a mansion in the country with a garage full of sports cars, holidays in the sun and an enormous shopping spree, or simply giving up the day job?
Whatever your dream one thing’s for sure, it’s now going to cost twice as much to play.
In the 18 years since Britain’s first national lottery was launched in 1994, the price for a single line of six numbers has always been £1. Through inflation, recession - and a rebrand to ‘Lotto’ - the stake remained the same, as did distribution of the prize fund.
From this autumn, however, Lotto plans to double the ticket price in return for larger prizes at the bottom and top end, and a new £20,000 raffle game.
The hike has been slammed by some as “another tax on the poor” and accusations of greed have been made against operator Camelot, with thousands taking to social media websites to vent their anger and call for a boycott.
The controversy is reminiscent of that which erupted when the idea of a national lottery was first announced. There were fears it would encourage gambling and act as a stealth tax as 12 per cent of revenue would go straight to the Government.
Even the 28p per pound going to good causes has been questioned over the years as the Big Lottery Fund has been seen to fill the gaps where public money has been cut.
How the changes will impact on retailers - who receive 5p in every pound - is yet to be seen if the boycotts come to fruition.
With the high street under more and more pressure every day, retailers are hoping the price increase won’t hit their bottom line.
Melvyn Nickson, owner of Bargain Booze in Poulton, sees the impulse buyers being put off. “I see syndicates paying £10 or £20 a week will continue to spend the same amount but on fewer lines. The loss will come with people who buy tickets on the odd occasion as they’re more likely to think twice on spending £2.”
“As the public continue to feel the pinch, local people have questioned whether now is the right time to be doubling the cost of anything.”
Derek Hargreaves, 67, of Horncliffe Road, South Shore, said: “I’m going to stop doing it. I normally put a tenner a week on but I’m not paying £20”, and Patsy Clarkson, 67, of Moss House Road, Marton, added: “I don’t usually get them but I wouldn’t want to pay a 100 per cent mark-up.”
Margaret Browell, 67, of Stadium Avenue, South Shore, said: “It’s too dear.
“Lots of people aren’t going to be able to afford it. The lottery are going to price themselves out of it”, while June Taylor, 68, also of Stadium Avenue, added: “That’s terrible and people won’t do as many now”.
Gazette readers have also voiced their opposition to the changes online, with “rip off”, “greed” and “leeches” a recurring theme on the paper’s Facebook page, alongside pledges to cancel the direct debit and boycott the game.
Others are more understanding and said they would cut their cloth accordingly, reducing the number of lines or times they play.
Steve Thickett said he would continue to spend £2 a week, but only on the Saturday draw rather than playing Wednesday as well, while Claire Doubbleyoo posted that her syndicate would only play the weekend draw from now on too.
Chris Turner, however, welcomed the new raffle game.
He said: “I think its quite good 50 people win £20k guaranteed on every draw.
“If you don’t like it, don’t play.”
Marc Green pointed out the new scheme would see more people win smaller prizes “so for more people they’re more realistic prizes to achieve than the higher amounts.”
Lotto bosses say they do not anticipate the change will result in a loss of revenue, good news for both retailers and the recipients of the Big Lottery Fund which has funnelled £29bn into good causes over the last 18 years.
Andy Duncan, managing director of Camelot UK Lotteries Limited, said: “Our players still love Lotto – but after 18 years, they say they want more from it.
“We’ve spoken extensively with them to develop a re-energised game, and the changes we’ll be introducing in the autumn to rejuvenate Lotto will give them what they have asked for.”