Despite a big drop in traditional over-the-counter revenue, a surge in digital sales has helped UK National Lottery operator Camelot weather the Coronavirus storm.
Although lottery ticket sales declined 1.7 per cent, to £3.85bn (US$5.14bn/€4.32bn), during H1 of Camelot’s 2020/21 Financial Year, the system added 1.3 million new online registrations during the half and there was a corresponding 39 per cent increase in digital sales.
Old-time paper ticket sales, without surprise, crashed by some 30 per cent because of the impact of Covid-19 on retail — to a value of £2.23bn (US$3bn/€2.5bn).
But there was a near 40 per cent rise in digital sales during the financial half, ending September 26. Mobile sales surpassed £1bn (US$1.33bn/€1.12bn) for the first time, surging 50 per cent to £1.13bn (US$1.5bn/€1.27bn).
“Like most other businesses, we’ve faced a lot of upheaval and challenges this year,” said Camelot Chief Executive Nigel Railton.
“At the start of April, we found ourselves in an unprecedented situation with a sharp decline in sales, retail uncertainty and our EuroMillions game in jeopardy as some of our partner countries were under strict lockdowns.
“To add to this, we had to move overnight to the vast majority of our employees working from home. So we’re enormously proud of this set of results.”
The licence to run the UK lottery expires soon and is up for tender.
The preferred applicant will be announced in September next year and a new, or existing, operator will start a fresh contract — for 10-years – from July 2023, the longer to strengthen forward planning.
It will be the fourth operating contract to be awarded during the life of the spectacularly successful UK Lottery.
During the pandemic alone, the lottery has donated more than £800m (US$1.07bn/€897m) to worthy causes.
And Camelot, perhaps rightly, are quick to point out that they’ve generated around £42bn (US$56bn/€47bn) for charity since the lottery’s first draw in November, 1994.
Camelot, which has yet to formally announce its bid for renewal, is certainly the wide favourite.
Other bidders include: Northern & Shell–who already operate the UK’s “Health Lottery”; Czech gaming power, the Sazka Group and technology Affiliate Sugal & Damani.
Perennial speculation adds Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group to the mix.