richard, desmond, northern & shell, health lotteryRichard Desmond, owner of newspaper publisher Northern & Shell, is preparing to officially launch the Health Lottery later today in a bid to rival the National Lottery.

The launch is expected to increase the lottery market by £250m, and generate £50m of money for healthcare-related charities in the UK. The lottery also claim to have 40,000 retailers signed up for terminals across the country, drastically up on National Lottery operator Camelot’s 28,000 terminals.

The lottery market has been arguably the last existing without any discernible competition, so the new service is sure to be good news for customers and retailers. Tony Holmes, the Health Lottery’s sales director, speaking to Retail Express, said “The lottery is the last category to fall…the launch of the Health Lottery is going to transform the lottery category as we know it in the UK”.

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With a £20m marketing campaign planned, there is certain to be a lot of hype surrounding the opening draw on October 8, as well as plenty of additional coverage across Desmond’s media empire which includes Channel 5 and the Daily Express. But the launch has already attracted controversy with the news that only 20p of every pound will be donated to charity, lower than the 28p that the National Lottery donates to good causes.

Chief Executive of the Health Lottery Martin Hall defended this by explaining that a higher proportion of money will be given away in prizes. “If we’re giving more in prizes, there is less to give away,” he said, speaking this morning to BBC Breakfast.

Competition good for business

Retailers have been both enthusiastic, and sceptical, about the new launch. Edinburgh retailer Abdul Qadar welcomed the competition amid increased PoS activity from Camelot. He said to Retail Express, “This is what happens when there’s competition, and it’s all good for business.”

Tara Riggs was less convinced however: “Can I really spare all that time to train my volunteers for a game that will probably fizzle out after a week or so?”

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