The Health Lottery

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The Health Lottery
RegionGreat Britain
Regulated byGambling Commission
Odds of winning jackpot1 in 2,118,760
Number of games5
Shown on

The Health Lottery is a lottery that operates on behalf of twelve local society lotteries across Great Britain. It was launched in October 2011 and runs five weekly draws on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Each week a different regional community interest company receives the funds, with 20% of ticket sale proceeds going to local health-related causes. It is operated by Northern and Shell.[1]


The origins of the Health Lottery predate the National Lottery, to the failed National Health Service Lottery which had an abortive launch in 1988, before being declared illegal. The assets of the NHS Lottery were purchased in 2007 by Altala Group Ltd., a company run by Ian Milligan, a former employee of Camelot Group, the operators of the UK National Lottery.[2] Altala went into administration in 2009, shortly before it was due to be granted its gambling licence, and was purchased by Health Lottery Ltd.[3] After winning the licence, the Health Lottery was sold in February 2011 to Richard Desmond's Northern & Shell group.[4]

The Health Lottery launched in September 2011. Until the summer of 2018, the Health Lottery had operated 51 society lotteries across Great Britain. This structure was formally re-organised in July 2018, to form 12 new larger community interest companies (CICs) covering England, Scotland and Wales.[5] The Health Lottery also re-organised its playing structure to ensure a minimum jackpot of £25,000, and shorten the odds of winning any prize (now 1 in 9.7).[6] In addition, the monthly Mega Raffle was introduced, in which one Health Lottery player wins a guaranteed cash prize of £250,000.[7] The first Mega Raffle was drawn on 1 September 2018.

Game structure[edit]

The Health Lottery is drawn five times a week, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays. [8] Participation in the game requires a minimum fee of £1. Winnings range from a free ticket to a jackpot of £250,000.


First draws for the Health Lottery were broadcast live on the ITV network during an advertisement break of The X Factor, paid for by Northern & Shell; they were quickly moved to Channel 5, which was at the time Northern & Shell's subsidiary. Draws are currently broadcast at around 9:55 pm on Channel 5. It was initially planned to be hosted by Eamonn Holmes[9] but as Holmes was employed by Sky News, he was dropped due to a possible conflict of interest.[10] Melinda Messenger was confirmed as the host on 5 October 2011.[11]

To celebrate the first anniversary of the Health Lottery, a new Wednesday night draw called "Win Wednesday" was launched.[12]

On 5 August 2015, it was announced that the Health Lottery would be extended to five nights a week, with previous National Lottery presenter Anthea Turner taking over as host of the new-look draws from 13 August.[13]


The game has been criticised for donating only 20.3% of the ticket price to causes, compared with 28% donated by the National Lottery. Spokespersons for the Health Lottery argue that the game will grow the market.[14] Some attention was also given to the possibility that favourable coverage of the lottery in Desmond's Daily Express and the Daily Star amounted to disguised advertising,[15] which was reported to the Advertising Standards Authority, who found the issue to be outside their remit.[16] The Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced in October 2011 that the Gambling Commission would investigate the legality of the Health Lottery, after questions were raised about the way the lottery was being run and the cost to smaller lotteries nationwide.[17]

Camelot Group attempted to take High Court legal action to have the Health Lottery's gambling licence revoked in 2012, claiming that they had not received adequate protection from the Gambling Commission. Camelot lost the case, a verdict described by Richard Desmond as[18]

“a complete vindication of all the hard work that has gone into launching The Health Lottery…if Camelot had succeeded in this case, they would have shut down lifeline funding to hundreds of health projects and charities. The charity sector would have lost out badly."


To circumvent the requirements of the Gambling Act, the Health Lottery is not structured as a national lottery, but rather as twelve different society lotteries, each one representing at least one local authority area within England, Scotland and Wales.[19] Each society lottery is licensed by the Gambling Commission and operates as an individual community interest company, or CIC. Different CICs take turns in participating in a weekly draw so each week different CICs are represented and every region gets a share of the pot. Money is then donated to support health-related causes within their respective local areas. The Health Lottery ELM Ltd operates as an external lottery manager to oversee the society lotteries. The ELM charges a management fee of 0.5p in every pound, which provides the profit for the lottery owners. The allocation of funds to causes raised by the Health Lottery is determined by the relevant CICs and their partner charity, the People’s Health Trust, and not by The Health Lottery ELM Ltd.[19] They usually support local charities and grassroots projects.

In 2010 this complicated structure was judged by the Gambling Commission regulatory panel to be "close to the line in respect of section 99 of the [Gambling] Act" and that while the structure was "capable of being compliant with the Act" it was "finely balanced". Concern was expressed that the individual lotteries were not to be combined into one de facto national lottery, as to do so would be a breach of the Act.[20]


  1. ^ "New commercial lottery launched". BBC News. 27 September 2011. Archived from the original on 20 July 2020. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  2. ^ "Bridge Business Recovery appointed to find buyer for The Health Lottery". Business Money News. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  3. ^ "Buyer Found for Health Lottery". CCR Magazine. Archived from the original on 23 April 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  4. ^ Halliday, Josh (28 February 2011). "Richard Desmond unveils the Health Lottery". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  5. ^ Canning, Tom (30 August 2018). "£250,000 Health Lottery Mega Raffle on Saturday". birminghammail. Archived from the original on 4 December 2018. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  6. ^ "Health Lottery Prizes and Odds of Winning". UK National Lottery. Archived from the original on 18 October 2018. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  7. ^ Canning, Tom (30 August 2018). "First ever £250,000 Health Lottery Mega Raffle draw takes place on Saturday". SomersetLive. Great Britain. Archived from the original on 3 January 2019. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  8. ^ "Health Lottery results: Tonight's winning numbers for Wednesday July 12 2017". Scunthorpetelegraph. 12 July 2017. Archived from the original on 15 February 2019. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  9. ^ "Health Lottery to kick off next week and be screened on 5". Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  10. ^ "Eamonn Holmes Quits Health Lottery". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on 6 November 2021. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  11. ^ "Melinda Messenger to Host Telly Health Lotto Draw". Archived from the original on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
  12. ^ "Wednesday Night Health Lottery Launches". Archived from the original on 11 October 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
  13. ^ Reynolds, Mark (5 August 2015). "Everyone's a winner says Anthea Turner, the new face of the Health Lottery". Archived from the original on 2 December 2017. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  14. ^ Ramesh, Randeep; editor, social affairs (27 September 2011). "Richard Desmond's health lottery branded a 'disgrace'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 21 October 2016. Retrieved 16 December 2016 – via {{cite news}}: |last2= has generic name (help)
  15. ^ "Full Fact 29/09/2011, Will the ASA take the Express to task over Health Lottery coverage?". Archived from the original on 2 November 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  16. ^ Archived 29 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine ASA Adjudication on The Health Lottery
  17. ^ Halliday, Josh (27 October 2011). "Richard Desmond's Health Lottery under scrutiny by watchdog". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 5 August 2017. Retrieved 16 December 2016 – via
  18. ^ Halliday, Josh; Sweney, Mark (22 August 2012). "Camelot loses high court action against Richard Desmond's Health Lottery". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 October 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018 – via
  19. ^ a b "Terms & Conditions for Lottery Players - The Health Lottery". Archived from the original on 6 April 2020. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  20. ^ "Creation of national lottery The Health Lottery ELM Limited - a Freedom of Information request to Gambling Commission". WhatDoTheyKnow. 19 October 2011. Archived from the original on 9 October 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2020.

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