Tickets go on sale today for The Health Lottery, the new draw-based lottery game which will generate income for local health charities by offering a top weekly prize of £100,000.
For every £1 ticket sold, 20.34p will be donated to "carefully selected community focused initiatives across every area of Great Britain". These initiatives have been screened by the People's Health Trust, chaired by Professor Jennie Popay.
John Hume, Chief Executive at the People's Health Trust, said: "We will be working directly with communities to identify practival and sustainable ways in which funding from The Health Lottery can have real impacts on health and well-being in communities experiencing significant disadvantages."
In practice The Health Lottery is not a national lottery but is made up of 51 society lotteries, each representing local authority areas. Society lotteries are exempt from the 12p per pound in duty that has to be paid on sales of National Lottery tickets.
Organisers claim that it should generate £50 million a year for health related good causes.
The live draw will be shown on ITV1 and Channel 5 each Saturday from 8 October 2011, and will be hosted by Eamonn Holmes.
The Health Lottery is backed by Northern & Shell, which owns Express newspapers and Channel 5, and which has made an initial investment of £20m in marketing. Tickets will be available from more than 40,000 outlets across Great Britain including WHSmith, Sainsburys, Morrisons, Tesco and Asda, as well as independent retailers and online.
The new lottery has met with some opposition. Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of ACEVO, said that Richard Desmond, Northern & Shell owner, was "profiteering on the back of charities". He added: "The National Lottery gives 28p. If he cares about health charities he should match that figure or he should close it down."
St Giles Hospice, which relies on the £800,000 it raises from its own lottery, is encouraging local people to turn their backs on the Health Lottery. Richard Simmonite, Commercial Manager for the St Giles Hospice Lottery, said: “Our weekly hospice lottery is an essential source of income for St Giles Hospice, raising 10% of the money we need each year to provide our free specialist care services for local people.
"We’re extremely concerned, therefore, that the new Health Lottery could divert significant amounts of money away from local hospice care, which is the last thing we need in this already difficult economic climate."
He added: “Playing the Health Lottery might sound like a good idea for those who wish to support good causes, but the fact is it will only donate 20p to charity for every £1 spent on tickets – just a fraction above the minimum amount required by law."