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How Much Money is Spent on the Lottery?

national lotteryThe United Kingdom’s National Lottery is played by many people throughout the country, and it offers various games that appeal to different players. Various people who have participated in The National Lottery have been turned into millionaires, thanks to securing the complete set of winning numbers. And while it is common to wonder who the next jackpot winner will be or how much is waiting to be won, it’s not so frequent that we wonder how much money is spent on the lottery itself.

We’re going to look at this particular query in two different ways. First of all, how much does the lottery generate in terms of gross gambling yield (GGY) and how much of that goes to good causes and projects? Plus, what about Camelot? How does it make its money and what is divided up to different areas? And secondly, we want to take a look at this from the player perspective. How much do participants in The National Lottery spend on average and has the general spend increased or decreased over time? Join us as we take a closer look at how much money is actually spent on the country’s lottery.

The Lottery Perspective

camelot group logo and lottery ballsThe statistics of the gambling industry are usually released once (sometimes twice) per year, and the latest data comes from November of 2021. Those figures were released by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, which is the regulatory body for gambling across the country. Within that report, it was noted that since the beginning of statistics being reported, the Commission has seen the highest annual National Lottery sales, and this in turn led to strong levels of donations to good causes, naturally.

The National Lottery obtained ticket sales that totalled £8.4 billion in the period between April 2020 and March 2021. From that amount, a total of £4.9 billion was returned to players as prizes. Within that same period, the primary contribution to the country’s good causes stood at £1.7 billion.

Delving further into the statistics released by the Gambling Commission, it is prevalent to note some additional figures for the 2020/21 period. An increase of 3.9% on the 2019/20 timeframe in terms of GGY was recorded, with a figure of £3.5 billion on the records. The increase in ticket sales stood at £482.2 million more than the previous period, while the increase in prizes handed out to participants stood at £349.7 million more or 7.8%. This all led to an increase in the amount of money donated to good causes around the United Kingdom, which was boosted by £553.1 million or 18.6%.

Looking at a complete breakdown in percentages of the total sales for the National Lottery, both remote and non-remote, it is clear to see that 57.9% was given as prizes for those with winning tickets. Lottery duty stood at 12%, while the primary contribution to good causes was 20.6%. A 6.3% retention by the licensee was also reported, while the remainder of 3.2% went as commission for retailers of lottery tickets.

Those figures exist specifically for the country’s National Lottery, so anything that doesn’t form part of this, such as the Postcode Lottery or the Health Lottery, has not been factored into those reported figures. Instead, the data for such is provided through alternative reports, although still included within the data released by the Commission. However, the latest figures for these lotteries comes from the 2019/20 period. Yet even though this is the case, an increase in GGY and ticket sales was noted.

From April 2019 through to March 2020, an increase in GGY of £72.1 million (13.3%) was recorded on April 2018 to March 2019 figures, totalling £612.6 million. The increase in ticket sales of £97.1 million, led to a donation to good causes of £367.8 million altogether – an increase of £36.1 million. Meanwhile, prizes handed out to players increased to £219.1 million – a total share of 26.3% of the breakdown.

The Player Perspective

lottery card marking off numbersAs the figures on the lottery side of things dictate, participation in the games provided by The National Lottery is on the up-and-up. In those same reports, a graph is seen that displays the number of ticket sales consistently on the rise year-on-year. In June of 2021, it was reported that a total of 389 people in the United Kingdom were made into millionaires via their participation in the various games. And it was in 2020 that ticket sales broke the £8 billion barrier for the very first time. Of course, that could have also been due to the fact that COVID-19 hit and forced more people to stay indoors. With little else to do with their money, perhaps purchasing additional lottery tickets factored into their spend.

Camelot spoke of the average weekly spend across all of its lottery games and via all channels had actually remained about the same as the previous time period, though. And this suggests that the majority of extra money and tickets bought was down to new players engaging in such. In 2020, about £1.2 billion of the funds generated by The National Lottery was also donated to support and relief efforts surrounding the worldwide pandemic.

And despite falling ticket sales in other partner countries of the EuroMillions lottery, the sales in the UK for this game grew slightly.

One other piece of information which stands out quite significantly is that even though the UK’s lottery is the fifth largest in the world in terms of sales, it is also one of the lowest in terms of per capita spend, ranking at 60th against all others worldwide. This, Camelot said, is due to the operator’s push to get lots of people to play just a little bit, rather than having them utilise massive amounts in lottery ticket purchases.

Who exactly is playing the UK National Lottery games? Well, the majority of participants at 54% are those between the ages of 45 and 64, while just below that at 47% are those between 25 and 44 years old. Only 21% of people between the ages of 16 and 24 responded to a survey with a positive reaction to confirm they had participated in playing lottery games within the past 12 months. Demographic surveys have also been able to find out where the largest number of participants are based. A total of 54% of surveyed people confirmed that they were based in the North East of England, while people in the capital of London tend to play the games far less.

The National Lottery Participation by Game Type

instant win games and scratchcardsUtilising the Taking Part survey, which investigates cultural and sport participation in England and is conducted by Ipsos Mori and NetCen Social Research, it can be discovered how people in the UK spend their leisure time. Between April 2019 and March 2020, the survey looked into the participation of adults between 16 and 75+ years in The National Lottery. The surveyed individuals were randomly chosen from the Post Office’s list of English addresses, and of all the respondents, 44% noted that they had partaken in such games at least once in the previous 12 months.

The most popular lottery game amongst respondents remains the standard Lotto, with 71% stating that it is their game of choice. This is followed up by participation in the EuroMillions game, with 60% saying that they had played it at least once within the previous 12 months. Surprisingly enough, lottery scratch cards rank as number three in terms of game popularity, followed on by the Thunderball game with 11% of respondents enjoying it in the previous 12 months, any other National Lottery games after this, and finally the HotPicks. It was also reported that just 2% of the people responding to the survey had played online instant win games provided by The National Lottery. Those games were recently the focus of criticism from MPs, who believes that they are too much like industry games that are linked with problem gambling issues.

Of those respondents to the survey, 35% of them said that they buy lottery tickets every single week, 25% said a ticket is purchased each month, and 40% said that they buy tickets less often than each month. A survey was conducted in 2019 by the Gambling Commission which pretty much reinforced the results from this one.

Back in 2018, The Daily Mirror reported that the average lifetime spend of UK lottery gamers on tickets for all games collectively stands at £377.94 per person. Within that same article, it was mentioned that researchers had carried out a detailed study, which found out that most players believed they would need to win £5,402,013.03 in order to be able to cover their most-desired items. Participants responded with flashy holiday homes, paying off their old mortgage and claiming a new car as being their most ideal purchases from a lottery win, as well as booking a perfect holiday.

Within that same survey though, various outlandish things were reported on as being an ideal purchase from lottery winnings by British players. A canal boat in Amsterdam was one, a steam engine was another, and an Egyptian mummy was what one participant said they would buy! And there was another who said they would spend money on sending their son to Australia to play with platypuses (although this isn’t highly recommended considering these animals have poisonous venom running through their hands).

Even though that is the case, a third of respondents said that winning such a huge, life-changing sum would actually lead to severe cases of anxiety. Interestingly enough as well, just 5% of British people would be happy for others to know that they had won a big jackpot reward from The National Lottery.

Further Lottery Participation Details

lottery ballsIn 2019, crafted an infographic that displayed how much money was spent on the purchase of lottery tickets every minute in the UK. Utilising spend statistics from Camelot’s financial report that year, the infographic clearly stated that £15,128.47 was spent every 60 seconds on the purchase of lottery tickets. Of course, that figure is simply taken from the total amount spent on National Lottery tickets between April 1 and September 28, 2019, and then dividing it by the number of minutes within that six-month period.

And while that figure is, in itself, quite stunning to see, it may be heightened by the fact that stands as a third of the average salary within the United Kingdom. Despite the shock value behind those figures though, it was noted to be “no surprise” to see how popular the lottery and its various games are.

The decisions on which good causes receive a donation from The National Lottery are made by 12 specialist organisations. These are chosen by Parliament based on their knowledge and expertise, and ensure that the money is given to the places where it is needed. To the end of March 2021, the funds generated by The National Lottery were handed out in the following way:

  • 40% given to Health, Education, Environment and Charitable Causes
  • 20% given to Sport
  • 20% given to the Arts
  • 20% given to Heritage

Some of the projects that have benefitted from funds given by the UK lottery include the renovation of Wembley Stadium back in 2007, the Fight for Peach campaign which provides martial arts and boxing sessions to young people between 7 and 25 as a way of building violence-free futures, River and Sea Sense which teaches water safety and CPR to young people and adults across Wales, and Social Bite – an Edinburgh-based sandwich shop which gives every penny of profit towards supporting homeless people and tackling social problems.

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