by Nigel Railton, CEO, Camelot - National Lottery players raise £34m every week for good causes

in Lottery

National Lottery players raise £34m every week for good causes, says NIGEL RAILTON

THIS HAS been a very tough few months for everyone in this country.


It's been tough for everyone on the planet! But with Christmas just around the corner, I think we can all start to see some light at the end of the tunnel. As we move out of lockdown into a more localised tier system, some incredible things have been achieved in the search for a vaccine.

At Camelot, we have the privilege of looking after a British institution, the National Lottery. So how has Covid-19 affected the health of this precious asset?

Well, the pandemic hit us earlier than many businesses, with one of our employees diagnosed with Covid in early March.

Thankfully, that individual made a full recovery, but it meant we had to immediately close our head office. The vast majority of our people have been working from home ever since. Much of the country has had to find new ways of working as we all learn to adapt.

In Early April it became clear that we had to think fast and act decisively if we were to get through the first few months of the crisis in any sort of fit state. We updated all of our advertising to encourage people to play online or on their mobiles if at all possible.

We urged people to only buy Lottery tickets in shops if they were already in-store to do an essential shop. We knew this meant there would be a big shift from our more traditional retail outlets to digital, which simply had to happen if people were to remain safe. 

Very quickly, we had more than 1.3 million new online customers, which led to loads more traffic on our website and our app and of course, a big rise in the number of people needing online technical support.

So we had to put extra money into that area fast to make it work for our players.

We also postponed a series of special jackpot draws that had originally been planned for April and May - as we knew it would be irresponsible to encourage people into shops during that time.

So we improved the digital experience for those that prefer to play online. But we will always make sure that our retail outlets get the support they need too. Indeed, we have doubled our retail sales force over the last three years to ensure just that. 

I am so proud of how our retail partners stepped up to the plate as this pandemic unfolded. At a time when we were advised to stay at home, our retailers - from the large store to the smallest corner shop - kept Britain going. They remain the lifeblood of our operation.

We took these steps because we judged they were critical for the nation's Good Causes. And I'm delighted to say that our plan worked. During this most challenging period, National Lottery players raised on average £34million every week for good causes - funding for communities, sports clubs, museums and heritage sites in every corner of the UK.

This has never been more important than it is now, with National Lottery distributors committing up to £800million of funding to UK charities and organisations to help tackle the impact of Covid-19.

Of course, we could not have done any of this without your support. Everyone who has ever bought a ticket has contributed to the £42billion the National Lottery has given to good causes since 1994.

And we are hugely aware of our responsibility to all our players. All of this has been achieved without compromising our longstanding commitment to player protection - encouraging lots of people to play but to individually only spend relatively small amounts.

That's why at this time of national crisis, I'm proud to support the Brilliantly British campaign which is designed to get us all pulling together, buying British products and supporting British retailers and manufacturers.

And what could be more British than panto? For many families, Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without a trip to the pantomime. And at Camelot we agree. (Oh yes we do!)

National Lottery funds bought up a number of seats that needed to remain empty to enable social distancing, making it possible for some theatres to open their doors for pantomime season.

Up to 250,000 tickets were made available, with more than 20,000 free tickets available for National Lottery players.

This will generate vital income for theatres and help protect jobs - while providing some much-needed cheer. A lot of hard work and collaboration went on behind the scenes to make that happen. And we're going to need that sort of spirit as we head into next year.

Let's make 2021 the year of the fight back.

Nigel Railton is the Chief Executive Officer of Camelot