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The rise of the lottery


Take note: Pooled or bespoke, charity lottery is on the rise.

In fact, according to Mintel’s exhaustive 2023 report, it’s going from strength to strength. Currently sitting at £4.3m consumer expenditure on lotteries in 2023, it's looking to rise to around £5m by 2026. In fact, Mintel state that lotteries were among the minority of business sectors to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic in a better position than they entered it.

As providers of a charity lottery service here at Woods Valldata, we see a huge window of opportunity for charities to take advantage of this exciting surge in lottery fever – whether through pooled lottery  or all the way to your own bespoke lottery product .

Below, we’ve shared some of the key insights we gained from Mintel’s UK Lotteries Market report…


6 key insights that show charity lottery is on the rise:

1. Strong figures

Although consumer expenditure on lotteries fell 2.6% in 2021/22, the sector was among the minority to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic in a better position than they entered it [Mintel - UK - 2023].

There’s no sign of the growth stopping, either. There's a new National Lottery operator, Allwyn, who will be looking to innovate in the lottery space, making it more convenient than ever for people to play lottery games online. in fact, whilst retail plays have declines, online plays across the lottery sector have made a massive step increase since 2020 - a trend that is being sustained post the 2020 lockdowns.

2. Cost-of-living proof?

Although society lotteries (charity-run lotteries to you and me) account for only 10% of total lottery sales in the UK, they remain a reliable source of income for many charities. Mintel report that while National Lottery revenues fell in 2021/22, society lottery sales actually grew by 5.4% - led mostly by digital or remote sales.

It's also worth reflecting back on trends from the last time inflation increased at a higher rate than wage increases: the financial crisis of 2009/2010. During this time, consumer spending on lottery games actually increased and bucked the trend of the rest of the economy.

3. The power of digital

The 1.4% increase in lottery sales in 2017/18 can be largely attributed to the launch of the full Android version of the National Lottery app.

The app instantly facilitated quick access to games for millions of additional players, highlighting the immense (and growing) value of digital’s ability to enable the easy online purchase of tickets, via mobile devices.

Digital sales have continued to grow during the 2020/21 pandemic and have sustained into 2023. But there is opportunity to bring digital outside of online only into mobile technologies.  Using NFC technologies, for example, can encourage more spontaneous play from passers by and might even attract a younger demographic too. In fact, innovation in lottery will be one of the most exciting developments of the new National Lottery operator, Allwyn, innovations that will likely cascade to society lotteries too.

A young couple at home, gasping as they have won the lottery on their phone, representing the impact of using a charity lottery service

4. Bigger prizes

One of the things highlighted in the 2023 Mintel report is that the size of the prize will be more important than ever in encouraging play. The cost-of-living crisis means that people will be much more responsive to life-changing sums of money rather than the smaller guaranteed sums represented by some society lottery models. So when it comes to attracting new players, and those with no connection to your cause, bigger is better.  That's why Woods Valldata offers an insured top prize option for it's lottery products - to enable charities of any size to offer a top prize of up to £25,000.

Charities might also want to explore opportunities with corporate partners to offer prizes such as cars or leisure-based activities.

5. Mixed motivations

Lottery games continue to appeal to a wide and varied audience.

In fact, research into gambling by 2CV on behalf of the Gambling Commission found that lottery is the most popular kind of gambling activity, with over 70% of lottery players motivated by the money. But speaking to a range of charity partners who operate lotteries we perhaps see these motivations tempered by the player's connection to cause and their motivations become more about supporting the charity than the overall size and frequency of the win.

Winning is important though, and in tests where recent winners of any value were called, a high percentage went on to increase their average number of chances. 

6. Winning over a new generation

While lottery draws are particularly popular amongst people within medium-high income households (earning over £40,000) and 55–64-year-olds (44% for each group), there’s still much work when it comes to attracting the younger demographic. You can watch our webinar on player personas for more detail around this.

So, how can charity lottery operators win over the younger crowd?

Charities should start by focusing on harnessing the power of digital to incite a ‘fear of missing out’ in younger players: the ‘impulse purchase’ experience can be recreated within downloadable apps capable of reminding players to take part in draws via notifications, introducing instant play via NFC technologies and other technological innovations. 

For Millennials and Gen Z it is all about the ease of play. It's not about bombarding them with digital ads, but giving them opportunities to play whether via online or physical communications with a quick way to sign up on their smart device.

three multi racial young people laying on the grass smiling at the camera, with smart phones or tablet in hands ready to sign up to a weekly lottery

7. Good causes

When asked which good causes lotteries should support, the Mintel responders rates health services, foodbanks, support for the elderly and nature and the environment as their top causes. It's perhaps symptomatic of post-pandemic that the public should want to support the causes that are so immediately impacted by COVID-19 and the cost of living crisis.

A significant opportunity exists for charity lottery operators to tap into individuals’ desire to be charitable and convert non-players, highlighting the positive impact of their support.

In addition to this, in 2019, 17% of current players cited the knowledge that lotteries support good causes as an influence on their purchasing decision: there’s a clear possibility to boost altruistic players’ participation in lottery draws by increasing awareness of the difference they can make by joining in.

Operators can highlight the positive impact of charity lotteries via marketing campaigns and digital platforms that foreground the good causes behind them.

Lotteries themselves are excellent generators of positive, emotionally engaging content, providing valuable material for inspirational case studies and success stories.

Woods Valldata’s charity lottery service

The urge to play the lottery may fluctuate from draw to draw, but the human desire to make a difference is always there.

This prize-led form of acquisition and income-generating approach is proving to be a very effective method for growing a supporter base.

Woods Valldata is an experienced External Lottery Manager (ELM)  and charity lottery provider with an industry-leading offering. Our comprehensive charity lottery services includes:

We have an exciting suite of Lottery products which facilitate over 250k players every week, and we can cater for charities both small and large.

Affinity Lottery is our latest lottery offering. A pooled lottery with low entry cost perfect for small and medium-sized charities looking to explore what weekly lottery can offer. If you’d like to learn more about this, don’t hesitate to contact our team!

In the meantime, if you’re looking to take advantage of lottery’s continual rise by developing and growing your own charity lottery, be sure to come along to one of our 'Introduction to Weekly Lottery' webinars - an ideal opportunity to find out more and ask any questions.

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