The Gambling Commission has announced several changes as it kicks off the process to award the next UK National Lottery licence.
UK.- The British gambling regulator, the Gambling Commission (UKGC), has officially launched the process to select the next operator to run the country’s National Lottery.
It has invited prospective bidders to formally register their interest in competing for what will be the fourth licence to run the lottery since its inception in 1994.
Bidders that pass the first stage will be issued an Invitation to Apply (ITA) with supporting documents to begin preparing their application.
The Gambling Commission expects to announce its preferred applicant in September 2021.
The Commission has announced several changes to the way the next licence will be run.
The licence will now last for ten years rather than five. The chosen licensee will also have more flexibility in how it chooses to run the lottery, with more freedom to maximise incentive mechanisms and returns to good causes.
The Commission says this will grant the licensee greater clarity for investment planning.
The chosen licensee will also be required to form stronger relationships with the bodies that distribute National Lottery funding as the Gambling Commission aims to improve links between the lottery brand, players and good causes.
Gambling Commission Chief Executive Neil McArthur said: “For the fourth licence, we will be evolving our approach to regulation to build on the National Lottery’s huge successes.
“In line with our outcomes-focused approach to regulation, we want the next licensee to have greater autonomy to meet the needs of players in 2023 and beyond, whilst ensuring there is clear accountability for the performance of the National Lottery.”
He said he expected the tender to be competitive, saying the Commission had received a “healthy level of interest from a range of different parties.”
However potential bidders have criticised the delay to a process that was initially due to be launched early this year and the resulting decision to extend the incumbent operator Camelot’s licence to July 2023.
Camelot has operated the National Lottery since its launch, winning the two previous tenders held since 1994.
Expected competitors for the next licence include Health Lottery operator Northern & Shell and the Czech Republic’s Sazka Group.
Following controversy over its appointment of a London-based consultancy last week, Sazka said it had yet to take a decision.
It said: “We have been considering our position on whether or not to participate.
“As the leading operator of lotteries in Europe, Sazka could offer the expertise and resources required to deliver a state-of-the-art operation, alongside some fresh thinking that would boost the National Lottery’s appeal and secure more money for good causes.
“However, as we haven’t yet reached a final decision, we will not be providing any further comment on the process.”
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, which competed in the tenders in 1994 and 2001, has distanced itself from making a third bid.
Sugal and Damani, the only bidder to compete against Camelot when the licence last came up for tender in 2009, may enter the race.
The National Lottery generated a record £7.91billion in sales for the fiscal year ending March 31. Digital sales rose 34 per cent year-on-year to £2.46billion.
It has raised more than £41billion for 565,000 good causes since its launch.
Gambling Commission Chief Executive Neil McArthur said: “Over the last quarter of a century, it has made an unprecedented contribution to communities across the UK and has made a difference to the lives of millions.
“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.”
UK Minister for Sports, Tourism and Heritage Nigel Huddleston said: “The National Lottery has a positive impact on communities right across the UK, supporting thousands of good causes as well as the sectors that brighten up our lives including the arts, culture, heritage and sport.
“The fourth licence competition will secure the National Lottery’s future combining safe play with life-changing prizes. Most importantly it will help raise billions more pounds to benefit people’s lives in villages, towns and cities throughout the country.”
It’s widely expected that the UK will raise the minimum age for buying National Lottery products from 16 to 18 in the near future.