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Tuesday, November 17, 1998 Published at 12:24 GMT

Business: The Company File

Lottery profits dip

The main lottery draw remained popular

UK Lottery operator Camelot has reported a dramatic fall in sales of scratchcards.

Latest figures show 14.5% fewer "Instants" were sold during the 24 weeks to 12 September than in the same period last year.

Despite a modest rise in sales for the main lottery game, total sales dropped to £2.42bn from £2.46bn in 1997.

Camelot's pre-tax profits also fell, although the group said this was expected.

Over the 24 weeks it made £34m compared with £38.5m in the same period last year.

'Still popular'

Chairman Sir George Russell painted an upbeat picture of the group, which recently changed the focus of its advertising to concentrate on the good achieved by the lottery rather than its massive prizes.

[ image: Sales of scratchcards fell 14.5%]
Sales of scratchcards fell 14.5%
"We are still on course to meet our increased target of £10bn for the good causes by September 2001," he insisted.

"Camelot Group plc is committed to retaining its position as one of the world's best lottery operators. We are also committed to maintaining the confidence of our stakeholders and the wider public as custodians of the people's lottery."

He said the lottery had "continued to enjoy high levels of popularity among players.

"The online game in particular exceeded last year's record performance and combined with sales from Instants, raised £696.3m for the good causes.

Sir George said that Camelot's profits after tax of £23.4m represented less than 1p for every pound of sales.

A Camelot spokeswoman said the fall in profits was due to changes in its licence structure rather than the drop in sales.

"The good causes go up, Camelot's profits go down," she said.

The Lottery operator's licence has been structured to channel more money into good causes and less into profits as the years go by.

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