The A-C (Ambulance to Cricket) of Lotteries Shaping Kent

In mid-March, the popular National Lottery Open Week returned to Kent, uniting several of the county’s attractions over a week of cheap entertainment. These included local jewels like Leeds Castle and the Franciscan Gardens.

The occasion dispensed with traditional passes in favour of scratchcards and lottery tickets, as the National Lottery sought to reward local people for their charitable donations over the past year. All anybody had to do was present a used ticket at the gate of Kent’s landmarks.

Of course, those donations took the form of money spent playing the National Lottery. The game, which has been owned by Allwyn Entertainment since it purchased Camelot in 2022, funnels around £600m each year into its Community Fund. 

Mystic Meg

National Lottery Open Week is a country-wide initiative to improve access to National Trust sites (including Scottish ones), stadia, theatres, and museums. This year, it included Wembley Stadium, the Eden Project, and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Source: Pexels

The National Lottery’s charitable bent isn’t unique among lotteries. Across the sea, the Irish Lottery gives around €0.30 from each €1 earned to good causes. This game captures an audience worldwide, as the Irish Lotto boasts better odds than the UK version

Overall, the Irish Lotto has raised €5.5bn in its nearly four decades of history. Its British rival does have it pipped in the same category, however, making 685,000 individual awards since 1994 when it unleashed Mystic Meg upon the world, for a grand total of almost £50bn. 

Air Ambulance

The Irish and National lotteries are just two of thousands of similar games in the UK, many of which reside within Kent’s borders. These are almost always tied to local charities, regardless of their focus or goal.

Sevenoaks District Council defines these games as “small society” lotteries and limits how much a charity can earn from their use in a single year. This is currently £20,000 in ticket sales per game and £250,000 overall per year.

Source: Pexels

As with similar organisations throughout the UK, the local Air Ambulance Charity gets most of its funding (78%) from its lottery game, totalling £8.3m in 2023. The Midlands-equivalent ambulance claims that each flight costs £2,950 and every car journey £288.

Charities operating lotteries in the local area range from the Heart of Kent Hospice, the Kent Autistic Trust, and the Kent Wildlife Trust. Even Kent Cricket operates a lottery to raise funds for its community programmes, keeping the sport accessible to amateurs. 

Giving away financial prizes to earn money might seem like an odd way to support a charity or business but lotteries have long been considered a tent pole in an organisation’s income. They’re an important but sometimes hidden part of Kent’s charitable world.

As for the National Lottery, the £100bn, ten-year agreement that gave Allwyn the license insisted that the company increase charitable donations from lottery funds going forward.

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