Since launching in 1994, the National Lottery in the United Kingdom has been run the Canadian firm Camelot.
Camelot are based in Watford and owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan who purchased the company for £389 million back in 2011.
Currently, the National Lottery offer draws six nights out of seven per week. These are the Lotto on Saturdays and Wednesdays, Euromillions on Tuesdays and Fridays, and Set for Life on Mondays and Thursdays. They also run the Thunderball as well as instant win games and scratchcards in store and online
However, after almost three decades, their contract is up for renewal and rivals are circulating for the licence.
This is the fourth time that the Lotto licence has been up for competition, with the last occasion being in 2009. The licence awarded then is set to expire in 2023 and the new licence will run until 2033.
Camelot themselves have completed the Selection Questionnaire which is the first step in the bidding process but haven’t actually committed to confirming whether or not it will compete for the renewal of its licence.
Should they bow out after 27 years, Camelot can point to a legacy of £43 billion raised for good causes since 1994.
Sazka Are The Favourites
The favourites to secure the new licence appear to be the Sazka Group, a Czech company that operates at home and also in Austria, Italy, Cyprus and Greece. Sazka can boast combined annual sales of £17.5 billion euros.
This firm have manipulated their way into pole position after aligning themselves with some top talent trough Allwyn, a firm chaired by Sir Keith Mills. They are also working with Vodafone on the lotto’s technology moving forward.
Sir Keith Mills is said to have played a major role in securing the 2012 London Olympics and was also influential in organising the games. He is also the man who invented the Sainsbury’s Nectar card and also Air Miles and is joined on the Allwyn board by Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King and Brent Hoberman, a venture capitalist.
At the top of the pile, is Sazka boss Karel Komárek who made his fortune in oil and gas following the fall of communism in the former Czechoslovakia.
Also In The Running
Also in the running is the former proprietor of the Daily Express and Health Lottery owner Richard Desmond.
Desmond sold off his stake in his print media arm to the Reach company in order to fund his shot at lottery ownership via his company Northern & Shell.
There is also a challenger from Italy in the field. Sisal already runs eoperations in Italy, Spain, Morocco and Turkey where they actually beat Sazka to win two additional lottery contracts.
This firm is headed by chief executive Francesco Durante and backed by private equity group CVC who acquired it for €1 billion in 2016.
In order to demonstrate its commitment to good causes Sisal has partnered up with the children’s charity Barnardo’s and has also joined forces with BT who will bring their expertise to the technology side of things.
Why Camelot Are Worried
Camelot’s time in charge has not been without controversy.
In 2018, MPs’ report claimed that the Ontario based firm had increased their profits by 122% while their charitable contributions over the same period of time had only risen by 2%.
Whether or not Camelot decide to bid, they have had a stay of execution for now at least.
In August, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission delayed the announcement of the winning bid until February 2022, meaning Camelot’s licensee was extended for six months to February 2024.
It is hard to put a number on the value for the franchise, but Camelot Group reported sales of £7.9 billion for 2019/20.
The gambling Commission will announce the winning bid in February 2022.