Sazka taps Olympics chief Keith Mills to lead National Lottery bid

in Lottery

European lottery group Sazka has appointed the man behind London’s successful bid for the 2012 Olympics to lead its tender for the UK’s National Lottery licence.

Earlier this month Sazka, which is Europe’s largest lottery owner, launched a surprise challenge to take the licence from current operator Camelot for the first time since the prize draw began in 1994.

The company today said that Sir Keith Mills, who led the London 2012 campaign and served as deputy chairman of the London Organising Committee, will act as bid chairman.

Mills said he believed the UK National Lottery needed to “grow and be engaging if it is to continue to fund the thousands of good causes every year”.

“Our lottery is a national treasure with nearly 26 years of history; however, the landscape has changed immeasurably since it was first launched back in 1994,” he said.

“The challenge now is to ensure the lottery connects with people right across the country, making it fresh and exciting as it once was, bringing new ways that are relevant for today and tomorrow’s generation.”

In addition to spearheading the London Olympics, Mills is also known for his track record as an entrepreneur, establishing the Air Miles and Nectar customer loyalty programmes.

In 2014 he set up the Invictus Games alongside Prince Harry, and he also chairs the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The appointment will come as a major boost to Sazka’s efforts to take control of the lottery when Camelot’s licence expires in 2023.

The group argues that its experience running lotteries in the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Greece and Cyprus will help it “revitalise the UK National Lottery, increasing sales and money raised for good causes”.

Sazka is now assembling a UK team for its efforts and has appointed former London 2012 employee Alastair Ruxton as bid director.

The National Lottery licence contest is being run by the Gambling Commission, which will select the winning bid next year.