The National Lottery has made more than £ 1 billion selling ‘addicting’ online games during the lockdown, The Telegraph may reveal, amid calls to abandon the products.
Camelot, which operates the government-franchised lottery, sold £ 1.17 billion worth of interactive instant games, which can be played online and on mobile phones, in 2020/21.
This record amount of sales during the pandemic – which increased by more than 50% from the previous year – came as the company seeks to renew its license to run the UK lottery.
Camelot achieved a record turnover of £ 8.37bn from its games, an increase of £ 468.8m, the majority of which came from Instant Win interactive games, which MEPs described as “mini casinos”.
Games, including paid versions of family favorites like Monopoly and Cluedo, only give 10p out of every pound spent on good causes, compared to bi-weekly draws like Lotto, which give three times that amount. .
The games can be played multiple times, with some costing up to £ 5 per game. One, “Wads in Your Wallet”, can be played at least three times per minute for 50p at a time.
An industry source who previously worked for Camelot told The Telegraph that games with a higher betting frequency, such as instant lottery games at the National Lottery, are “more associated with problem gambling.” The source said these games were more likely to be associated with problem gambling than draws that can only be played twice a week.
Camelot offers several forms of “player protection” such as a limit of £ 350 per week that people can add to their account, as well as “game interruption” after completing a game.
Players can also set their own limits on how much they want to spend, and some may receive targeted messages and even have restrictions placed on them if they consistently max out their accounts.
Carolyn Harris, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Harm, said: “During the lockdown, many people isolated at home resorted to the mini-casinos available on their cell phones.”
Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, said: “The National Lottery was created to fund good causes and people will see them as offering harmless fun. Giving more addicting instant products is a long way from that and should be. stopped. immediately. “
In April, The Telegraph revealed that the National Lottery had agreed to take down the £ 10 instant win online games following research by the Gambling Commission which found a link between higher priced games and gambling. problem.
A spokesperson for Camelot said: “Our goal is to raise as much money as possible for good causes – and our online Instant Win games, which have been available for 17 years, are only part of a range of fun and safe games that offer something for everyone.
“This has allowed the National Lottery to generate record returns for good causes from last year’s sales. Like many businesses, our online sales increased during the lockdown, with many people who normally buy their tickets in stores choosing to play online instead.
“Online raffle game sales far exceed instant win game sales, with people playing on average less than two instant win games per week over the past year. While we are proud that national lottery games pose an extremely low risk of causing damage, we will continue to invest significantly in our industry-leading line of healthy gambling tools. “