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Sevenoaks may get its own weekly lottery

Plans for a new community lottery for good causes in Sevenoaks have moved a step closer.

Community lotteries can be set up by councils to help raise money for local causes and on Tuesday, Sevenoaks District Council's people and places committee discussed whether the scheme would be viable.

Sevenoaks District Council may run its own lottery
Sevenoaks District Council may run its own lottery

Lotteries run by local authorities aren't uncommon, with over 80 currently run by councils in the UK.

Tickets would cost £1 with a jackpot of £25,000 up for grabs, although the odds are set at one in a million to win the big prize.

With the money, raised 50% would be given to good causes across Sevenoaks who would apply to the council to take part.

At the meeting councillors showed some concern about the dangers of gambling, but were supportive of raising money for local groups.

Cllr Perry Cole said he wanted strong safeguards for gambling addicts, but announced he would back the idea. He said: "Whenever you mention lottery it springs to mind gambling and I know everyone has their own prejudicial view."

Cllr Perry Cole (Con), in favour
Cllr Perry Cole (Con), in favour

"But," he said, "I prefer to think this isn't gambling. This is an enablement for people to make a donation to a local worthy cause. The by-product of this too is they may win some money back.

Council officer Jenny Godfrey tried to allay his concerns. She said: "There are many measures in place, it's only payable online via direct debit and there's no instant gratification or reward.

"There's no high profile showcase of the draw itself. It'll be on a Saturday and we'll have links to gambling support organisations there.

"A key thing is there'll be a limit on the number of tickets you can buy, which is 20 per week. It's not considered a high level form of gambling."

However not all were convinced by the idea, as Cllr Dr Merilyn Canet said: "I was very concerned when I read this, the council considering promoting a form of gambling.

Cllr Dr Merilyn Canet: against
Cllr Dr Merilyn Canet: against

She said: "I know that in Sevenoaks the National Lottery doesn't have many sales because people look at odds and think they're not good enough.

"I think our reputation might be damaged by this sadly, I see Tonbridge and Malling tried this and it closed after too few sales, so I won't be in favour of this."

While Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council did close their community lottery in 2018, council officers claimed a lack of marketing and investment caused its downfall and a lottery in Sevenoaks would have to be well funded.

The plans will now move to the council's cabinet for approval at a later date, after the committee gave it the green light.

If the cabinet also supports the lottery, it could be put in place by spring next year.

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