UK National Lottery Details Licensing Process, Winner to Be Announced in 2021

in Lottery

UK National Lottery license cage match officially underway

The UK’s gambling regulator has formally opened the competition to operate the National Lottery, while announcing staff cuts that are prompting further criticism from anti-gambling parliamentarians.

On Friday, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) announced the start of the cage match to determine who gets to run the National Lottery when the current licensee’s contract expires in 2023. The license is currently held by Camelot UK Lotteries Ltd, a subsidiary of the Camelot Group, which has operated the Lottery since its launch in 1994.

Whoever the recipient of the fourth license is, they’ll have a fixed 10-year term, which the UKGC believes will offer “a clear period for investment planning.” The licensee will also enjoy an incentive mechanism to ensure “the licensee’s incentives and delivery are closely aligned with returns to good causes.”

In June, Camelot reported sales of £7.9b in its most recent fiscal year, up 10% on the previous year, with digital sales topping the £2b mark for the first time. Returns to good causes were up 12% to £1.85b, but the new licensee will enjoy “greater flexibility to maximize returns to good causes, hand in hand with ensuring safe and fair play.”

A number of would-be licensees have been rumored to have an interest in this derby, including Czech lottery and betting giant Sazka Group, Australia’s Tabcorp Holdings, and Health Lottery operator Northern & Shell.  

Interested parties must register their interest in bidding for the license, with qualified parties receiving an Invitation to Apply, which requires a great deal more paperwork to demonstrate their capacity to operate the Lottery. The UKGC envisions identifying its preferred candidate by September 2021.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reported Friday that the UKGC is proceeding with plans to trim its payroll by £1m. The regulator is reportedly looking for volunteers to accept buyouts before deciding how many more of its current 332 staff will be forced to walk the plank to meet the UKGC’s targets.

Rumors of the cuts began circulating in April, which led UKGC critics to slam the regulator for further reducing its ability to police its licensees, particularly the online ones. Labour MP Meg Hillier said Friday that the cuts were unfortunate “give the huge gaps in [the UKGC’s] understanding” of gambling harms and its “tortoise-like progress” in tackling those harms.

A UKGC spokesperson said only that the cuts were intended to make the regulator more “agile” and was mulling “some changes we must make to meet the challenges ahead.”


Gambling Commission outlines changes as it launches National Lottery licence process

The Gambling Commission has begun the process to award the UK’s fourth National Lottery licence with key changes outlined.

The successful licensee will now be awarded with a 10-year fixed term licence, due when the current one expires in 2023, with the winning applicant to be announced in September 2021.

Interested parties have been invited to register as part of the first formal stage of the competition, and applicants that pass the stage will then receive the Invitation to Apply (ITA), to begin their applications

The new licence will provide great flexibility to increase returns to good causes and ensure safe play, to build on the National Lottery’s ongoing success that has raised more than £41bn ($54.5bn) for good causes in the UK, since launching in 1994.

Additionally, the licensee will be required to nurture stronger relationships with distributors of National Lottery funding, to enhance the link between the lottery brand, its players and good causes.

The Gambling Commission said it has seen a healthy amount of interest from a variety of different parties.

Gambling Commission CEO Neil McArthur, said: “The National Lottery is a national treasure. It has a reputation for providing enjoyable games and a high degree of player protection, as well as a rich history of prize giving and returns to good causes.

“We are determined to protect and build on the reputation of the National Lottery. For the fourth licence, we will be evolving our approach to regulation to build on the National Lottery’s huge successes.”

Camelot has operated the National Lottery since 1994, and its current licence expires in 2023.