THE SCOTTISH Government must explain how the National Lottery would operate in an independent Scotland, according to the Conservative Party.
Finance secretary John Swinney has said an independent Scotland “will continue to have a lottery and lottery infrastructure”.
But he has come under new pressure to clarify the position after Tory MSP Nanette Milne wrote to National Lottery operator Camelot asking if it had been approached by SNP ministers. Ms Milne was told the future of the lottery in Scotland was not for Camelot but for the UK and Scottish Governments to decide.
Now Ms Milne is calling for an assurance that an independent Scotland would still have a share of the billions of pounds of lottery funding, particularly as the Yes campaign is being heavily funded by Euromillions winners Chris and Colin Weir.
In a letter to Ms Milne, Camelot’s head of policy and public affairs, Richard Hickson, wrote: “Any decisions about the future shape of the National Lottery following a Scottish vote for independence in the referendum would be a matter for the respective governments, not Camelot.
“This also applies to the arrangements in place of distributing funds to National Lottery good causes.
“To date, National Lottery players have raised over £29 billion for the good causes, with more than 400,000 individual awards made across the UK.
“We have not had any meetings with SNP ministers on this matter to date.”
Ms Milne said: “John Swinney said only a few months ago that he had discussions about keeping the lottery under independence. Yet, neither he nor any of his ministerial colleagues has even bothered to meet with the very people running the UK National Lottery. The SNP and the Yes campaign are being bankrolled by lottery winners, but they have no idea whether the people of Scotland will still get the chance to play the lottery.
“Communities and the country’s sporting stars will also be wondering if they will continue to benefit from the billions given out from the lottery’s good causes fund.
“The UK National Lottery has been vital to funding the training success of Scottish Olympic and Paralympic sportsmen and women, with our athletes winning 13 of Team GB’s 65 medals at the London Olympics.
“Sales from UK National Lottery tickets are vital to their business turnover, so any loss of revenue could have a big impact on their business.”
A spokeswoman for Mr Swinney said as Scotland already contributed to the lottery, there was “absolutely no reason” why it should not continue to operate as it did now.
“The current Camelot contract runs to 2023. People across Scotland have invested significant amounts through the National Lottery and any suggestion from Westminster that they would seek to take Scotland’s lottery cash would be a significant blow to the No campaign.
“As Camelot make clear, it is for the two governments to agree exact arrangements, which is why the Tory-led government should agree to discussions ahead of the referendum.
“As the Scottish Government continues to build the case for independence, we will engage in discussions across a wide range of issues – including the funding of charities and good causes.”