Sir Iain Duncan Smith has hit out at the “appalling” decision by the UK Gambling Commission to pocket £154.8m from National Lottery ticket sales meant for charities.
The former Leader of the Conservative Party, who is also Vice-Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling-Related Harm (APPG), delivered his reaction after The Mail on Sunday revealed the UKGC awarded itself £50m more than budgeted in order to cover administrative costs.
“This is another example of the appalling way the lottery is run,” Smith said. “The proportion of funds going to good causes has plummeted.”
In a letter to Dame Meg Hillier, Chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, Andrew Rhodes, UKGC Chief Executive, insisted the money is required to regulate the lottery for the next ten years, as well as paying for the recent bidding process of the fourth National Lottery licence which saw Allwyn named as the preferred candidate.
The money is supposed to support cash-starved charities and community groups, though Rhodes asserted that the withdrawn amount accounts for just 0.7% of the more than £14.5bn saved for good causes.
“We have made every effort to keep costs low while ensuring that we fulfil our statutory duties and deliver the best possible outcome for the National Lottery,” a UKGC statement read.
It added that £154.8m “represents a reasonable investment” against the £80bn that the ten-year contract was expected to generate in ticket sales.
The gambling regulator has come under pressure in light of Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine, with Dean Russell, MP for Watford, raising concerns over potential links between Allwyn’s Chairman Karel Komarek and Russian energy supplier Gazprom.
The UKGC has also been taken to High Court by Camelot over the “badly wrong” decision to award the National Lottery licence to Allwyn.