Thanet Community Lotto halted after complaint to Gambling Commission

Thanet Lotto

Thanet council has temporarily shut its community lotto on advice from the Gambling Commission after isle blogger Ian Driver reported it for having an invalid licence holder.

The community lottery was launched in 2017 to raise money for good causes in Thanet.

The Lotto gives people the chance to win a weekly jackpot of £25,000. For every £1 ticket sold online, 50p goes directly to projects and good causes in the community.

Unlike the National Lottery, which currently gives 28p from each ticket sold, Thanet’s version also give players the opportunity to decide which cause to support.

The council appointed independent Lottery Manager, Gatherwell, to run the lottery on its behalf, in accordance with the Gambling Act 2005.

But the Thanet Lotto licence holder is Thanet council’s monitoring officer Tim Howes who has been suspended from his role since last December. Meaning he cannot legally be listed as the licence holder.

In a blog this week Mr Driver revealed the complaint and the Gambling Commission’s order to cease operating the Lotto. The Lotto website now displays a message to say it is not open for ticket sales.

The message states: “You may have noticed that Thanet Community Lotto is not open for ticket sales, and draws are not taking place at the moment, but don’t worry we’ll be back very soon.

“Thanet District Council is the operator of this lottery. The council has been advised by the Gambling Commission that they must register a second Gambling Licence holder for the lottery. For this reason, Thanet Community Lotto will pause for a short period of time (approximately 6-8 weeks) to allow a second licence holder to be registered. After this time Thanet Community Lotto will resume normal operations. During this temporary pause, it will not be possible to purchase lottery tickets, and lottery draws will not take place.”

Mr Driver said: “Mr Howes’ line manager is TDC Chief Executive, Madeleine Homer, who would have been personally responsible for overseeing the re-allocation of his duties following his suspension from work.

“The Gambling Commission requires that changes to the lottery licence holder should be notified to them as quickly as possible. In this case it simply didn’t happen.

“To operate a lottery without a valid licence holder is a criminal offence. If found guilty the council can be subject to a heavy fine and could also be banned from operating a lottery.

“I understand that the Gambling Commission is now beginning investigations into why Mr Howes was not replaced as the lottery licence holder when he was suspended from work 10 months ago.

“In the meantime, the losers from the this appalling example of mismanagement will be Thanet’s hard pressed local charities who will be deprived of desperately needed cash.”

A Thanet council spokesperson said: “Thanet District Council is temporarily pausing draws and ticket sales on Thanet Community Lotto. We have been advised by the Gambling Commission that the council must register a second Gambling Licence holder. The lottery will pause for a short period of time (approximately 6-8 weeks) to allow a second licence holder to be registered, after which time Thanet Community Lotto will resume normal operations.

“During this temporary pause, it will not be possible to purchase a lottery ticket, and lottery draws will not take place. All local good causes and players registered with the lottery will be contacted directly, and will be notified once again when the service is ready to resume. All players will automatically be able to carry their current ticket payments over once the lottery has restarted.

“We thank everyone for their continued support of the Thanet Community Lotto and for all of the generous donations to our worthy local causes. We anticipate a resumption of the lottery very shortly.”

The Gambling Commission has been contacted for comment.


  1. Well yes it appears to be at best an oversight at worse it’s negligence. Another brick in the wall of incompetent management. I have never played the lottery but I will play this one when it restarts. Oh by the way, I have a can of graffiti remover in my shed just in case Mr Driver gets bored looking into other people’s affairs.

  2. If Mr. Driver cared so much for “Thanet’s hard-pressed local charities”, then perhaps he should have worked to ensure this wasn’t shutdown but a smooth transition could have been achieved rather than cause hurt to score a personal point.

    • Vinny, don’t be ridiculous. Any competent CEO would have checked this and any other responsibilities Tim Howes had at the point of his suspension. She just couldn’t be bothered and it demonstrates her complete disregard for legal protocols. No doubt the discontented staff would be happy to vent their frustration about, in my opinion, an absolutely dreadful CEO. You clearly don’t understand how journalists work. Although that’s not a prerequisite for commenting it would save you some embarrassment.

    • Did Ian Driver actually contact TDC about this or did he go straight to the Gambling Commission to shop the council?

  3. On this occasion, Mr. Driver took the correct action and should be commended.
    Indeed, why did it take this long for the ‘oversight’ to be noticed?
    Negligence? Incompetence? Something else?
    Let’s hope the Gambling Commission is not too heavy with the fine.

  4. They had ten months to sort the issue and fix. If they are allowed to do this illegally then we can’t complain when they do other things illegally. Well Done Mr Driver for keeping TDC on their toes. Can’t wait to see what you have next.

  5. This seems punitive and pointless and I’m pretty sure the Charity Commission won’t view it as crime of the century.

    Meanwhile, local charities suffer.

  6. Nothing wrong with what Ian Driver has highlighted.

    If the Chief Executive is going to suspend her top legal officer then she is under an obligation to consider how to cover his duties in his absence. Sounds very much to me like she didn’t do this.

    Yet another example of poor senior management judgement and even more justification for the Leader calling in the government to intervene.

  7. Whilst I didn’t agree with Ian driver’s graffiti vandalism I applaud his continued unfurling of TDC’s sails making all these irregularities transparent to all. TDC officers have a bit of a history regarding illegal activities, if those thinking this should be brushed under the matt didn’t know. We need to know that things are being run properly and legally by people who are knowledgeable in their rank. If that means a change of management and some of the officers then let it be so. There are too many ridiculous projects that are draining the TDC kitty also. It needs to be run for the benefit of Thanet residents, not the officers and management, and they need to be told that every day.

  8. “In the meantime, the losers from the this appalling example of mismanagement will be Thanet’s hard pressed local charities who will be deprived of desperately needed cash.”
    All thanks to Mr Driver’s misplaced crusading zeal.
    If he were really concerned about Thanet’s deserving charities, then an approach to TDC directly might have resolved the situation without any impact on our desperately needy charities.

  9. I’m not convinced an admin oversight is anything other than an admin oversight. I’m sure the Charities Commission find out daily that there are retrospective name changes needed due to folks leaving, retiring etc.

    This is disproportionate point scoring and the only folks who suffer are the charities. Even IF competent, people forget things.

    I support Cllr Ashby calling in Central government to scrutinise governance and delivery but this is toxic and as ever, local residents suffer at the hands of either TDC or some needless political point scoring.

    Please get some perspective.

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