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Hebrides News


What are the odds? Two rival community lotteries for Western Isles at same time

2 July 2017

Two rival lotteries are launching in competition with each other in the Western Isles this week.


Both pledge to donate their profits to island charities and are operating online only.


Neither group knew about the other until the last minute and are pressing ahead with their plans


The first - called Local Lotteries - goes live on Monday on with tickets priced £1.50.


The draw takes place every second Saturday night with the results to be posted on its website.


Some 58% of ticket sales are awarded in prizes while just 2% is for costs.


The remaining 40% is put into an Isle of Lewis Community Fund pot for grants to causes such as Lewis Befriending, Alzheimer’s support, Bethesda Hospice, Samaritans, Aline woodlands, Solas day centre, Crossroads and various play parks.


Competitors - the Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery - are kicking-off with a fanfare event including a pipe band this Saturday. Ticket sales will be available at


Robbie Macleod, the man behind the Local Lotteries venture was “shocked” to learn he had a rival at the eleventh hour.


The first he knew was when they posted on social media recently, he said.


“I got in touch with them straight away. It was just a coincidence we both came up with the same idea at the same time.”


Mr Macleod said his lottery is a “very good way of giving money to the local community. It’s a fun and different way to do it.”


A lot of people in the Western Isles play the National Lottery and “I thought it would be better if the money could stay in the community rather than going off the island.”


He first thought of the concept two years ago during an entrepreneurial skills class in his business course at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh.


After the course finished the 21-year-old from Ranish, Lochs, continued to develop the idea.


One big hitch was trying to keep costs low after local marketing research showed selling paper tickets was too expensive.


Mr Macleod explained: “I bought printers and thick card and went round the filling stations and the two big supermarkets in Stornoway showing them my idea and getting feedback.


“From this I learned that I wouldn't be able to keep costs as low as I wanted and there were additional problems with physical tickets so I decided I would make a website.”


“40% goes back to the community which is run by the Isle of Lewis Community Fund which I’ve also set up.


“People can vote on the website for where exactly the money goes and they can add their own ideas for local causes to the poll.”


Tony Robson, chair of Western Isles Community Society which is running the other lottery hopes islanders would support both as each have the same aims to help the community.


For years there were none and all of a sudden there’s two “but both are for the community good and we hope people will support both.


“The problem is it is been progressively difficult to get funding for community events, So instead of doing nothing we decided to do something about that.”


The Lifestyle lottery will raise money for projects and services which “aim to improve the aesthetics and lifestyle of the islands in challenging financial times.


“This might be helping to fund floral displays, street art, Christmas and Hogmanay events, play park upgrades, whatever communities want.”


He added: “All money raised for community benefit in an area will stay in that area.”


A company called Gatherwell has been hired to manage their lottery and will be paid 20% of the takings.


60p from each £1 ticket will go to the area in which the ticket was purchased, using a postcode system.


Six existing community groups will manage the funds in their respective areas by liaising with local residents to ascertain their wishes on spending the funding.


Stornoway Amenity Trust will manage the Broadbay area, Harris Voluntary Services will manage the Harris area, while Barra and Vatersay Community Limited have signed up to manage their own local funds.


Robbie Macleod of Local Lotteries