Camelot Poised for Lottery Victory Over Branson

18 December 2000

According to insiders, Britain's National Lottery Commission will today meet to formalise the reappointment of incumbent Camelot for a second seven-year term to run the nation’s multi-billion pound twice weekly lottery. An official announcement is expected Tuesday or Wednesday.

The decision-making process has been fraught with controversy bordering on farce. In August, the commission let it be known that Camelot’s sole rival for the business – Virgin Group’s Peoples Lottery – was the preferred contender – a decision successfully challenged in the High Court by Camelot, the judge ruling that the commission’s decision had been “conspicuously unfair”. The debacle led to the resignation of commission chair Dame Helena Shovelton.

There are also political ramifications as the Labour government promised in its election manifesto that the lottery would be awarded to a non-profits operation – an undertaking from which it has subsequently back-pedalled with vigour.

It is even possible that the decision will wipe the engraved grin from the face of Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson. He is said to have set his heart on winning the business from which he claimed Virgin would take not a single penny in profit.

Although the Branson bid might have raised more money for good causes that that of its rival, the commission is thought to have been concerned at Virgin’s ability to operate the lottery on a budget equating to only 2.8% of sales – judged by some to be inadequate given the massive marketing spend required to retain consumer interest over the seven year term.

Camelot’s operating budget of 4.7% (including 0.5% profit margin) is thought to be more realistic.

News source: Financial Times