FF Bill would end limit on charity prizes


FIANNA Fail is to introduce a Bill to head the legal limit of £10,000 - which charities may pay out in the total weekly prize fund of their lotteries.

Dr Michael Woods, the party's spokesman on equality and law reform, said the purpose of the Bill was to level the playing field for the charities as they tried to compete with the National Lottery and, increasingly, the UK lottery.

The charities affected would include those catering for cancer, polio and asthma, the Central Remedial Clinic, the Irish Wheelchair Association, Rehab, Liffey Trust and Gael Linn.

Dr Woods said the matter had taken on great urgency and the survival of the charities was threatened by competition from the UK lottery which was spreading in the Republic "without let or hindrance and with multi million pound prizes".

The turnover of the charitable lotteries has been severely reduced by the National Lottery, according to Dr Woods. He estimates that turnover dropped from more than £15 million in 1988 to £10 million in 1994.

The National Lottery, by contrast, has seen its turnover grow from £107 million in 1987 to £271 million in 1994, equivalent to 97 per cent of the lottery market.

Dr Woods said the dominant position of the National Lottery had been achieved through separate, more flexible legislation under which there is no cap on prizes. "If prize funds are to be limited, then this should apply to all lotteries", said Dr Woods.

The Fianna Fail Bill also provides for the easing of the current requirement to make weekly returns to the Garda in the case of prizes valued at £1,000 or less.

"The statutory requirement to keep records and make returns to the Garda of all prizewinners is completely unrealistic when dealing with scratch cards where the prizes are very small", said Dr Woods.