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I remember those attacks and the careful way we tried to counter them. However this idealistic concept of funding interesting and valuable projects from new money has always been a sham.

We've been hit in succession from different administrations by, firstly: trendy arty projects that the average person would rather remove his eyeballs with spoons than watch - only to be replaced by trendy politically correct lefty nonsense that the same person would then fill their still-bleeding eyesockets with shards of broken glass and fireants than put up with. It irks me that St Paul's Cathedral is not "accessible enough to minorities" and this icon of our country is therefore denied funds for its restoration.

Now this government is funding basic and vital public projects which should always have come from direct taxation.

However, Labour was being disingenuous when they called it a tax on the poor. It's a tax on the desperate, and a tax on the stupid. If you want to win £1 million for £1, play a single number on a roulette wheel and win. Put all the winnings on another single number and win again. Do it again. And again. You'll have just over £1 million. The odds of doing this are around 1 in 2 million.

That's better odds than the Lootery (sic).

A tax on the stupid? I feel bad now for working in a shop that sells the Lottery!

Another point is, why are Camalot still running the Lottery? They take a profit - whereas other organisations have said they'll run it non-profit.

It shouldn't matter whether the company that runs the Lottery makes a profit, as long as that company is better
able than others to maximise returns for the good causes.

Camelot has done a good job.

"It shouldn't matter whether the company that runs the Lottery makes a profit, as long as that company is better
able than others to maximise returns for the good causes.

Camelot has done a good job."

Seeing as Camelot have been the only company to have a go, then we have nothing to compare them with. I expect that a non-profit organisation could do just as good a job, and not take a profit - leaving more money for projects.

Whatever the benefits of Camelot or the Lottery as an idea John Major is surely right that Brown is looting it for his own ends.
I would very much hope that an incoming Conservative government would reform that that money raised from the Lottery can be spent.

Whoa there Chris - Camelot got the original contract because they offered to set up the infrastructure (lines, data management, terminal etc) and manage ongoing for a lower cost that the other contenders. At the time the National Lottery had lowest per unit costs as measured against the operators of the huge number of similiar lotteries worldwide.
It retained its licence against Virgin's bid because it promised again a low cost efficient operation with better ideas on how to keep the Lottery healthy.
Good demonstration of the efficiency of the market and of how private enterprise can derive profit and deliver lower costs while also delivering higher quality.

Its a shame that the Centre for Policy Studies didn't do their homework and release the report yesterday to coincide with the final stages of the National Lottery Bill passing through Parliament.

Even in the coverage of their report today both in print and broadcast media, there has been a failure to link it to this legislation, which actually provides the opportunity to ensure that the Govt has less control over lottery cash and that lottery spending is additional to core Govt expenditure.

Furthermore the media (and CSP?) seem to be conducting this debate without any involvement of those who actually benefit from lottery grants with no comments from representatives of arts, heritage and sport organisations or charities.

Perhaps this demonstrates the problems Phillipa Stroud mentioned at the CSJ event on Weds with centre-right think tanks employing far less people - and therefore having less capacity to make natural links with the parliamentary agenda, plus with organisations outside of the Westminster village, who are actually doing most of the lobbying to try and change this Bill.

The National Lottery is state inventionism at its worst. It encourages irrational risk-taking and the revenue is wasted on politically correct projects. It diverts money from going to charities too. A Major disaster!

There could be a list of worthy causes printed on the back of the Lottery ticket, eg Tsunami relief, London Olympics, St Paul's Cathedral etc etc. The ticket purchaser could tick a box next to the cause he or she wishes to support. At least people would then know what they were paying for.

There used to be a line in Absolutely Fabulous - do you remember the episode when Edina gets hauled before the courts for bad driving and makes a defence that was very libertarian? It ended something like "I mean I know we have to have bollards outside shops to stop all the stupid people running out into the road and killing themselves, but we're not all stupid are we? Why don't we have a stupidity tax? Tax the stupid people! "

Ms Saunders ahead of her time, as per usual. We do that now (darling) - it's called the lottery.

(Signed, one of the many stupid people, also a statistician so there's really no excuse).

As another of the stupid people I massage my intelligence with thought that 1 in 16 million chance is infinitely greater than no chance.

John Major was right to create the Lottery. He recognised the arguement against tax payer funding of arts, sports, special events in a resource constrained model - why pay £xm on y rather than on Health?

The problem was the normal goldplating was then applied - instead of a simple split of sports, arts, heritage and nominated specials (Olympics, World cup, millenium, jubilees etc) he gave way on "Good causes" when charities wanted to get their hands in the tills. The point was the Lottery was for fun - for things that added to the pleasures (or vices?) of the nation paid for by the proceeds of "sin" (gambling is after all a vice not a contribution).

Putting in the Good Causes meant making value judgements on what good cause deserved more than another - so all the arguements about political correctness. Charitable giving suffers if people think that putting a pound bet on is an act of charity - better to be clear it's a gamble and proceeds are for pleasures.

And once it covered good causes the arguements against putting in NHS causes as well became weak - so it becomes more and more a state fundraising exercise.

Cut it loose from the government entirely. Make it a charity.

Excellent post Ted. John Major is right to highlight this issue. It is a scandal.

There needs to be a reflection and review of the lottery by Parliament. The good causes part of Ted's post is really thought provoking and I would wholly agree.

Perhaps we should have a parliamentary committee to oversee the functions of the lottery and expose any over reaching of its proper functions.

We should abolish the lottery AND subsidies for sport and the arts.

Why should we subsidise opera and classical music when other forms of music do not need them?

Why should taxpayers subsidise the Olympics when the Americans showed they could be run profitably?

I think that view would be political suicide Selsdon.I can't imagine any government of any hue entertaining the idea.

The point about the Lottery is it's voluntary - you don't have to gamble!

Thats why I'm happy for a lottery to support nominated activities that aren't ones a state should prioritise. I'm not happy that the NHS or education should be funded on a voluntary basis. I don't think a state body (even an nominally independent one) should make value judgements on charities - and I'd prefer that if I give to charity it goes straight to that charity without additional administrative costs above those already incurred by the charity.

I don't even mind the Lottery wasting cash on the Dome - I do mind the government doing so. Its gambling money - I bought the ticket on an impossible dream so if its wasted, well, I wasted it to start with.

The actual gambling that the National Lottery encourages is far more harmful than the paltry amounts it raises for "good causes" and many of the good causes could do without the money or get money redistributed from savings through restructuring of existing public services and tighter restrictions on spending.

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