Red Cross gives shot in the arm to Net lottery

InterLotto, the Internet lottery, has had a disappointing time so far, but hopes a relaunch and a Red Cross endorsement will change its fortunes

The International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Societies is backing the relaunch of Liechtenstein-based Internet lottery InterLotto, which is aiming to attract up to 200,000 weekly UK players within 18 months – despite a UK advertising ban.

Endorsement by the International Red Cross represents a major coup for the lottery, which has so far failed to pay out a full jackpot prize since its launch in August 1995. It blames this on disappointing level of Internet-based ticket sales.

Nevertheless, UK-based marketing agent for the lottery James Tucker claims 7,000 UK players are regularly entering the InterLotto game, despite a ban on the advertising of foreign lotteries in the UK.

The game, which will be rebranded Plus Lotto from April 18, attracts an average of 100,000 players a week worldwide at present, says Tucker. This is well down on the volume of entries originally anticipated by its Liechtenstein backers.

But the endorsement deal with the internationally renowned charity will build worldwide confidence among consumers entering the Lottery, says Tucker, despite growing concerns by US authorities over the potential for fraud in online gaming operations run out of other, unregulated, offshore territories.

Plus Lotto organisers hope the venture could attract up to ten per cent of Internet users in key markets, when awareness and confidence are established in its operations, and consumers become more at ease in making credit transfers online.

Domestic laws in the UK and other key territories will prevent any advertising to promote the Friday night lottery and online scratchcard games through conventional media.

But the Liechtenstein venture is now planning a heavyweight Internet-based ad campaign which Tucker claims cannot be stopped by national authorities.

“We are aiming to book 10 million banners on all the major search engines, including Lycos, Yahoo! and Webcrawler.” Banner ads will contain the International Red Cross and Crescent logos, and the Plus Lotto will also be cross-promoted at Red Cross Websites across the world.

The Red Cross will take 25 per cent of takings. Five per cent of revenues will continue to be held for Liechtenstein charities, while the overall prize payout of the lottery, currently 65 per cent, will drop to 50 per cent. The percentage retained for operational and marketing costs – currently 30 per cent – will also be reduced.

Commenting on the tie-up, George Weber, secretary general of the International Federation, says: “We have created a form of revenue generation, electronic fundraising that is a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

National Red Cross or Crescent societies which actively promote the lottery through their local Websites will receive additional revenues for introducing players. But Tucker accepts that Red Crescent societies operating in Muslim countries may face problems from local supporters because of Muslim objections to gambling.

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