In many ways, though we wish it well, we would rather that there was no cause to set up a Portsmouth lottery in the first place.
It’s not the principle of gambling that we oppose – £1 per ticket is a reasonable price, and a £25,000 top prize, while welcomed, is not life-changing in the way that Euromillions jackpots can become.
And obviously, it’s not that we oppose any money going to good causes in the area – and indeed there are plenty of deserving organisations that will make very good use of the cash. We list several today which have already applied, and we could fill the rest of this column just by naming others that spring to mind off the top of one’s head.
The reservation that we have about the lottery – and this is not to point the finger at the city council – is that it is a shame that a lottery game is starting to replace the local authority as a grant-making institution.
It’s no surprise that this is happening, and it would be naive to claim so after six years of austerity from central government. It’s not a difficult concept to grasp – if central government gives out less cash to local government, local government has – unless it whacks up council tax – less money to pass on to groups in its area.
So a local lottery is in some ways a sensible thing to bring in. Britain’s success at the Olympics is down in no small part to the injection of National Lottery money over the past two decades.
However, many groups in the area could do with guaranteed funding – such as local councils used to be able to provide – to be able to plan for their future. Dial Ride that we report on today is one, for example. While the lottery is structured to provide proceeds both on a regular basis and as one-off grants, the lottery itself isn’t guaranteed to be around forever. It can’t be.
However, this is probably howling at the moon, as times change. With that reservation raised, we hope that the lottery goes on to be a success. There’s sure to be a buzz around the first few draws –both then and in the future we hope we are reporting only on winners, and not losers.