The Crown Prosecution Service has decided to prosecute the organisers of the Telemillion telephone quiz for running an illegal lottery in a decision which could have far-reaching implications for other prize schemes (MW December 9).
Participants in the Telemillion scheme had to call an 0891 number, for which they were charged, and then answer a question. Those that got it right were able to go for the jackpot of up to 250,000 in a game of chance. Interactive Telephone Services, which ran Telemillion, claimed the game was not a lottery but the legal question hinged on two areas: was Telemillion a free entry game, and what was the level of skill involved in answering the questions?
The CPS has decided Telemillion was distributing tickets in an illegal lottery and is also prosecuting it for running an illegal competition in connection with business or "the sale of any article to the public" in which success does not depend to a substantial degree on skill.
The CPS was asked to investigate the scheme by the Gaming Board, which was concerned that if the CPS failed to act other companies would see it as a precedent for setting up their own rivals to the National Lottery and so undermine the game (MW February 18).
ITS is due to appear at Southampton Magistrates Court on January 26.
Telemillion was stopped after three months last year and the 2m advertising campaign through Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow & Johnson was suspended.