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.