If you’ve visited a shop recently, you may have noticed that all the £10 National Lottery Scratch Cards have disappeared.

So where have all the £10 scratchies gone? Well, it seems the National Lottery came under pressure from the Gambling Commission to withdraw the cards.

In September 2019, Camelot, the organisation which operates the UK National Lottery franchise, voluntarily agreed to withdraw cards with a £10 price tag. Leaving £5 cards as the highest value game currently available.

CARDS AFFECTED

Scratch cards affected included the ‘£4 Million Red‘ and ‘£4 Million Black’ games, along with ‘Diamond 7’. These cards represent some of the most popular games with the public. So why would Camelot cave to pressure from the Gambling Commission?

On the surface, the voluntary withdrawal seems a peculiar decision. However, on reading an announcement from the Gambling Commission, it appears a link between the £10 cards and problem gamblers was established.

REGULATION

A statement on the Gambling Commission website pronounced “Based on the new evidence, the Commission considered that the association of problem gambling with the £10 scratchcard was such that it was not consistent with it being a legitimate leisure activity. Therefore, it was incompatible with our statutory duties to ensure the interests of players are protected and to ensure that the National Lottery is run with all due propriety.”

This statement placed Camelot in an awkward position. They could either agree to remove the cards voluntarily or wait for the Gambling Commission to act. In recent years, the Commission has intervened more directly in the market, and with the UK’s Lottery franchise currently up for tender – Camelot probably decided this wasn’t the time to pick a fight with the regulator.

PROBLEM GAMBLING

I tried to locate a copy the report which cited the £10 cards as a lure for problem gamblers, but I could only find references to it, and not the actual report itself. Recently in a Daily Mirror article, a spokesperson for Camelot estimates less than 1 per cent of all National Lottery players were at risk from addiction.

Personally, I am dubious about the relation between £10 cards and problematic gambling habits. Nevertheless, let’s assume the problem is real. The solution, which is for Camelot to set a maximum card price of £5 appears more like a gesture than a serious attempt to resolve the issue. If a player wants to risk £10, surely they will purchase two £5 cards?

SCRATCH CARDS AS GIFTS

One area where I can see this regulation impacting sales is with customers who buy scratch cards as gifts. The £10 price tag always seemed like the right level for people wanting a quick gift. I’m not sure the £5 scratch card would be as popular.

Another issue Camelot will have to face in the future is inflation. Year on year, inflation eats away at the purchasing power of a pound (£). That’s why a Freddo Frogs chocolate bar now cost three times its original price. In 1994 a Freddo Frog cost 10p, in 2017 the price hit 30p! Camelot will need to find a way to factor inflation into a price structure which is now effectively capped at £5. The easiest way to do this would be a reduction in payouts to players. Another option available for Camelot will be offering jackpots that do not rise with inflation.

Sadly, it looks like the consumer will be the big loser in the withdrawal of the £10 cards along with many good causes who will be receiving less money from The National Lottery.