The UK government is to take action over a loophole that allows gambling websites to offer cut-price betting options on the EuroMillions.
The current set-up allows punters to place bets on the outcome of the draw, even though the UK’s Gambling Act prohibits betting on National Lottery games, at a cheaper price than buying a ticket.
Websites can bypass the law by offering British punters the option to bet on the outcome of the draw in other EU countries where EuroMillions is played.
However, critics argue that the £2 cost of placing a bet, lower than the ticket price of £2.50 a line, takes money away from good causes, and the government will now close the loophole.
As Lotteries Minister Tracey Crouch explained, “We want to act to ensure that money going to good causes is protected and that there is no confusion around the EuroMillions draw, providing the same levels of clarity as there is with the National Lottery.”
In response to the news, Nigel Birrell, chief executive of Lottoland, one of the websites that offers the betting service to punters, said his company would “welcome the opportunity” to be involved with the consultation over the new laws.
However, Birrell added that the time has come for a “general discussion about the justification of the monopoly”, adding that monopolies “hinder innovation and progress”, and this in turn impacts the consumer.
He also warned that lottery operators must work to update their products and services in order that lottery games remain relevant across the market.
“For many people the lottery has lost its magic,” said Birrell. “It is clearly a lack of choice, product innovation and an antiquated offering that has led to the decline of lottery sales over the past years.
“When the price of a EuroMillions ticket was increased to £2.50 we froze the price of betting on the main draw at £2, offering those customers who were dissatisfied with the price hike a viable alternative, something we believe the UK consumers deserve.
“We understand this clearly agitates the monopoly but giving choice and value is in the best interest of the consumer.
“We represent fair competition and an alternative from those disenfranchised with the current monopolistic market and offer; we are licensed, we pay our taxes and we are creating jobs.
“We believe this agenda is clearly being driven by Camelot lobbying to protect their monopoly and bully any competition out of the market, a precedent we have seen with society lotteries and most notably the Health Lottery.
“Camelot need to take a long hard look in the mirror. Camelot drove players away with the lotto change – an increase of £1 and then a year later added 10 balls to the matrix.
“The EuroMillions price increase was the final straw for the consumer; the retail decline, lack of innovation and a greedy monopoly is causing the haemorrhaging here. Moreover, people want to win big jackpots not small raffle prizes.
“The UK Lottery market cannot hide from technological progress and competition forever.”