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Tuesday, 5 September, 2000, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
Should Branson get the Lottery?
Both Camelot's and Richard Branson's bids for the National Lottery have been rejected, but Branson will continue negotiations with the Lottery Commission for another month.
Camelot was widely tipped as the Commission's favourite to run the lottery, given its strong record of efficiency and technical competence. But computer software problems had shaken confidence and cost them the bid.
The 'People's Lottery', Branson's non-profit making consortium, have until September 23 to convince the Lottery Commission that they've got what it takes to run what has become a national institution.
Do you think Branson's 'People's Lottery' should get a chance to run the show? Or has the Virgin boss got his fingers in too many pies?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Of course Richard should take it over - he was the best person to run it in the first place. Politics as usual got in the way. Do the right thing and offer it to him on bended knees!
I don't play the Lottery because the odds of winning are ridiculous and the amount that goes to 'good causes' is inadequate. I prefer to give to charities of my choice by gift aid. However, if it is run by a not for profit organisation then perhaps more could go either to prizes or good causes. I think the maximum prize should be capped at £1 million.
No, and neither should Camelot. The lottery should be scrapped asap, to stop the rotting of the nation's morality.
David Muir, New Zealand
No! The new lottery system he proposes will reduce my chances of winning the lottery even further, probably to about the same odds as a Virgin train arriving on time I expect.
The lottery should go to which ever company can increase the chance of players winning a small amount: the emphasis should be on creating a large number of "small winners" rather than a small number who each win obscene jackpots.
Whoever runs the lottery are not the ones to blame for the "Lack of money" going to charities. That is down to the Civil servants who are "guided" by Government into what goes where. The money raised by the lottery should all go to charities of "OUR" choice, we pay into it and we should have a say. How many voted for the millennium dome and its millions?
Camelot are acting as if it should have been automatically awarded the contract no matter what the circumstances and however bad their performance. Taking this issue to court is wasting valuable time and money because the public no longer wants them to run it and will show this by a further reduction in contributions, in turn reducing the lottery's contribution to charity.
Bill Bailey, United Kingdom
"People's Lottery" ... who thought that up, Blair or Branson?
I hope Sir Richard NEVER gets the lotto. All you have to do is look at the appalling state of his other businesses. He runs on spin, loves the publicity and is just so big-headed. Camelot have done nothing to be ashamed about -; except creating the best lottery in the world.
Dorina Carley, USA
No no no. Camelot has made a huge success of the National Lottery, beyond all expectations, with vast sums raised for charity. Branson can't even get his trains to run on time! Something instinctive in me rebels against anything called the "people's" this or that. Maybe now that we are all living in Blair's People's Republic it should be expected but it doesn't mean I like it! Camelot has a proven track record and can deliver the goods.
Mike Howles, UK
Let's think about it logically. When the lottery started there used to be at least £12.5m Jackpot and now it stands up at £7m - (I know Wednesdays have also dipped into Saturday's Jackpot). This represents a 44% decrease. If RB wants to decrease the odds of winning from 1 in 13m to 1 in 22m and in smaller prizes. It does not take a genius to work out that there will be a huge slump in lottery ticket sales as people will realize they can't win. judging by the past decreases and the new odds of winning, I feel the Lottery ticket sales will slump by a massive 77%!!!
Branson should definitely be given the chance of running the lottery as opposed to Camelot fat cats.
Whoever wins should organise with the Government (whoever is in) that a selected number of Charitable organisations benefit every two years or so, for the whole of that period) i.e. MENCAP or PHAB get a job lot of money which is then disseminated throughout the whole organisation from a central pot (which is in a high interest account which gives double benefits). I'm sure that if this was highlighted to all and agreed by everyone that more would play the game regardless of payments in prize money.
Yes I agree RB should get it, enough of the fat Cat Camelot. I hope that the Camelot staff will get a chance of being re-employed by RB's " People Lottery".
This lottery should never have been in the hands of a profit-based organisation. This should have been one of the ground rules. Give it to Branson, he appears to be someone we can all trust, rare in business these days.
I cant even believe these people are considering giving it to the Camelot fat cats, they have shown their greed. It has to go to Mr R Branson!
Nick smith, UK
You can't judge R.B just by his train service, our railways are a disgrace anyway.
He's a creative businessman and he built his empire from scratch. I'd choose him to run the lottery any day over the fat cat infested Camelot.
Whoever runs it - and my preference would be Richard Branson, no question - the National Lottery should not be run for profit. Only the Tories could have conceived of it in that way.
Richard Branson has the common sense to realise that in order to get people interested you have to give them what they want, and a non profit making lottery is what was needed right from the start. Best of luck, Richard. I have every confidence in Richard Branson. He is the only entrepreneur in this country who does not come across as money grabbing.
John Robb, United Kingdom
Camelot was rejected solely because of GTech's questionable business dealings.
WHY isn't Branson rejected on the same grounds?
He has aligned himself with a partner which already has similar problems in the USA.
Why wait for history to repeat itself?
Yes, Yes, Yes!
Richard Branson should get the lottery bid, because he is probably the only one who will run it on a non-profit making service.
If you look at the history of Mr Branson business adventures he always strives to put the customer first.
In today's market he is probably the only business man that I and a good few others would trust.
Alex White, UK
So long as Camelot never ever get to run the lottery again, then I for one will be happy. From the start Camelot has behaved atrociously putting the focus solely on making money, with the charity aspect sidelined. I think this court case is basically one fat cat desperately worried that it might have to go on a diet and live like the rest of us.
The complaints against Camelot all seem to be that it's made obscene amounts
of money. I thought people played the lottery to win obscene amounts of money,
but nobody is complaining about that. Money for good causes is only there so
people can feel good about gambling their money away.
As someone who has never played the lottery. I do not care who runs it as long as it is not Richard Branson. Yet again he is using the lottery to promote himself. His track record in business is not as good as he makes out. Camelot have proved they can run the lottery and what will happen to the 800 staff they currently employ.
Camelot should hire the best lawyers in the land and sue the lottery commission for this disgraceful act. Software problems? More like politics! As an aside I find it incredulous that people write into this with comments rubbishing the operator of the lottery for the way the money is spent. After 7 years the people should be aware that Camelot has absolutely NOTHING to do with the way the money is distributed and furthermore their profits are within the guidelines approved by the commission...
Why not let Camelot and Branson each run a lottery. In most other walks of life we try to avoid a monopoly and reckon that competition improves things. Nice to see them competing to see who get most money for good causes.
Think of the new lottery organiser's name. Think of other names. Divide by zero. Meditate on power and glory. Consult spin-doctor. Ring juju man. Set up focus groups. Have media firework display with friends and relations. Forget the other names. Open the envelope. And the answer is¿ Richard Branson
I believe there was a internet or newspaper poll that showed that 96% of the general public wanted Richard Branson to run it. Or doesn't that count?
Ed Koh, UK
Why not just be done with it, and abolish the whole thing. Then, every Saturday night, those who still wish to, can open their windows and lob a £1 coin out into the night ... given the odds, it amounts to much the same, doesn't it...?
Furthermore if the Lottery commission has eliminated Camelot over software problems, isn't Richard Branson's bid tied up with technology from Microsoft? If Microsoft manage to produce viable, virtually bug-free software on time and on budget for the lottery, then that will be a world first. Overall I detect a politically-correct vendetta spurred on by the gutter press, against Camelot who after all, have delivered an overall quality of service that to the vast majority of lottery customers has been enviable given the technology involved.
Let's get this clear - Camelot lost the Lottery because they concealed software faults not because they had them. Of course every computer program has problems. Camelot knew about these problems but failed to report them and so lost the licence.
No, Branson should not. Instead the rules need to be revised. We hear so much rhetoric about "free markets" and the like, yet the Lottery is a monopoly, why not allow anyone to set up a lottery? Why are unelected individuals given the power to make such decisions anyway?
The situation is appalling; we are so brain washed that we rarely stop to really consider things openly.
Camelot may already have a system working, but this would have to be replaced anyway due to technological changes. I'm glad Camelot won't run the lottery again due to all of the scandals involving the GTech firm that supplies the ticket machines.
As a THREE TIMES winner (£57 once and £10 twice) I think the present Lottery is just plain boring!! R.B will do something to cheer it up.
Norman McNorris, England
I'll sell my music shops, to pay for my ailing airline, then I'll sell half my airline to pay for my train service ( which is the worst in the UK) what can I sell to help my lottery?
Will you please read what Branson is doing to the lotto before you join him. 56 numbers not 49 and £2 a ticket. Oh the lotto is not a tax, you HAVE to pay taxes.
Why shouldn't a Lottery operator take a profit? Camelot take less the 5p in the pound, which is much less than most other businesses including supermarkets etc.
The reason that the profits are so large in amount is due to the fact that Camelot has made the UK lottery the most successful in the world.
Let's face facts. I for one - and I expect most players are in the same situation - don't play the lottery to give money to Good Causes. If I want to do that I'll give them money direct. I play the lottery to win. Pure and simple. Anyone not playing for this reason is just wasting their money.
It's a great idea "The peoples lottery". It means we get more money and so do the charities.
I hope he gets it!
Yes he and whatever consortium is included should get the lottery and proceeds go to support national health, buying of scanners and kidney machines rather that paying 100 million to a millennium dome which is subsequently sold to Japanese entrepreneur
I don't care who gets it. We shouldn't have it anyway and it certainly shouldn't take up as much TV time as it does. A simple announcement on the news of the numbers would do.
The British understanding of business and instinctive acumen regarding matters commercial as demonstrated by many of the comments on this page, shows exactly why Richard Branson will run the lottery.
A Non Profit making organisation? It's a bit like unmetered internet access - being compensated through advertising.
But how effective is it really going to be?
There seems to me to be a huge contradiction in people complaining about taxes, petrol costs etc, but then still handing over money to play the lottery every week. Whether it's a "tax on stupidity" or not doesn't really matter as long as the revenue generated is used for the public good. Who physically runs the lottery is academic: what's important is that the Government gets the money and spends it wisely.
Richard is the natural choice and has the heart of the UK foremost. The fact that he has his fingers in so many pies, means that he won't need to use the lottery to make his millions. Go for it Richard!
Yes, let's have a 'People's Lottery'. Smaller wins to more winners along with the promise of much more money to good courses can only succeed. That's a 'People' Lottery'.
There is no reason why Branson should not get the Lottery. Camelot should stop moaning as they have made millions out of their operation. That is why they are now likely to lose the lottery.
I think it's great. The naive, the stupid and the eternally optimistic pay to keep my taxes down! Go Richard, go!
Karl Peters, UK
People seem to think that Branson running the Lottery will mean that he will have an influence over where the money goes that is raised. Wrong! The Lottery operator has absolutely NO influence over that. The decisions are made by civil servants running the different commissions and we all know how good they are at making decisions and standing by them! Or putting them off for another month.
Yes, Yes, Yes.
He will give the Lottery a good shot in the arm, and if more people/projects benefit from more money then everyone is a winner.
Call me old and cynical if you like - Branson may say that all profits will go to the good causes but how much will he take out for costs?
Also he will be set to make a bomb if you can play the lottery on mobile phones (Virgin of course).
Tommy Brown, Scotland
I think that the way this whole episode has been handled smacks of political interference. If neither bid came up to scratch then surely the whole process begins again.
A number of people have stated that Branson will give more to 'Good Causes', but look at the figures. Camelot have put over £9 BILLION into the pot in six years whilst giving the Government a sum not far away from £5 BILLION in TAX. A total not far away from what Branson says will be handed over in seven years.
People are missing the point, regardless of who gets the lottery
the government are using the lottery to get themselves
out of trouble on things like the NHS and other
areas where the lottery money goes. I would like to
see a lottery where ALL the money going in is won
by the public and stop the government using more of OUR money
to pay for THEIR responsibilities (i.e. NHS)
My school applied for Lottery money to refurbish its theatre facilities and despite the money being available the bid was turned down. The entire borough and beyond would have benefited greatly.
I'm in favour of nationalising the Lottery and moving it out of Private hands and introducing a more democratic process to decide how funding is distributed. I don't believe that any Private company will manage this properly. Let the people decide or just give the money to Gordon Brown so that schools, hospitals and deprived areas can benefit.
Benj'min Mossop, Britain
I'll vote for whoever promises there will be no appalling Saturday Night lottery program on TV. Am I old fashioned not understanding why the lottery needs be a profit making enterprise at all?
To David Ward's comment, you don't become a billionaire by giving money away - you are right in that. However, having made his billions it's not as if Richard Branson needs to earn any more money, so he can afford to do things for charity. If I had the luxury of his wealth I would also do more for charity than I can currently afford.
Yes, I think Richard Branson should get the chance to run the show because he wears nice pullovers, and that facial hair - well say no more! At least that's non-profit making!!!
Will Holman, UK
I think Sir Richard should run the lottery because of his incredible business acumen. If anybody can make a huge success of this venture, it is him. He has the power and the will of the country at large to give a huge boost to good causes as well as improving the odds of individuals to be financially secure. Good luck Richard!
This is a good piece of PR. Branson claims to be running the lottery "not for profit" but how much will he take out in costs? He has an air of the nice guy but he is actually one of the toughest businessmen in the country.
Oh great, let's have Branson's grinning mug plastered all over something else. He's not a hero, he's a self-publicist who claims to be the little man taking on big companies whilst he is in fact just trying to monopolise everything himself. I might never be rich, but I won't ever buy a ticket off Rich.
Does it matter? The National Lottery is still a "tax on stupidity" whether Camelot profit or Branson "non-profit" is involved.
Richard Branson is only trying to do what I would if I had the funds - stopping the British public from being ripped off, as usual. I wish him luck - he doesn't need to line his pockets, he is a man of the people.
Can he run the lottery better than he does his wretched railway businesses? I'd sooner the lottery was left with Camelot
Camelot has made a great success of the lottery. It is now time to move forward. Public opinion is in favour of a lot more money going to charity, hospitals etc. Give the contract to the bidder who will give the most to these just causes - opera has had enough. And can you check to see if my numbers are in there?
I am of the opinion that there exists an element of "political" interference - Blair and Branson perhaps. By virtue of the link between the so-called "Peoples' Parliament" the "Peoples' Princess", I feel that New Labour has something to do with the current situation, the "Peoples' Lottery".
Soon we'll be renaming the country, "Great Branson".
We are awaiting Virgin Airlines to crack the Australian airline monopoly - surely one thing at a time.
Please ask Tony Blair if he would take a hike and ask Mr Branson to run the country. Maybe he can get everything back on track
Liz, Japan (UK)
All the comments saying 'look at the railway' are unjustified. Most of the problems are with Railtrack and the Tories under investment for 18 years. Mr Branson will make the lottery a success, I, for one, will start playing again.
Just because Richard Branson has a lot of other businesses doesn't mean he shouldn't have another one, especially since this one is purely (financially at least) for charity. If he does this and gives ALL the proceeds to charities, why shouldn't he crow about it? I certainly would.
Richard Branson should have had the lottery from day one. Anything designed to help good causes should not be run at a profit. The next thing they should look at is how the money is distributed, and include a percentage every week to the N.H.S.
Pauline Stanyon, UK
Richard Branson runs a great train service. I use if frequently to travel from Watford to Manchester - the trains are always on time, clean and the fares are cheap. If he can do this with the trains, imagine what he can do for the lottery?
The name of Peoples Lottery has the stench of New Labour all over it. This was a political decision to reward another one of Blair's cronies. It's a disgrace.
Kay Harris, England
Richard Branson may have a lot of fingers in a lot of pies, but as long they are good pies for the public, who cares?
Let him run the Lottery and show Camelot that you don't have to pay directors large sums of money and that you can run it as a non-profit operation. Good luck to him!
At present you only need 6 out of 48 balls to win the jackpot. Branson's going to make this 6 out of 53 (i.e. giving you considerably less chance to win). Lengthening the odds on the main draw is hardly likely to inspire people to continue playing. OK, there'll be more smaller prizes, but generally it's the big money people are after. I predict a decline in ticket sales and another Virgin-type disaster.
Another new Labour stitch-up. Lottery money to bail out the government for health, education etc. Disgusting...
You don't become a billionaire by giving money to charity. He is not all what he seems!
Camelot have made out lottery the most successful in the world with over £7 billion raised for good causes since 1994. Why was their bid rejected? Because it didn't match with New Labour's manifesto commitment to create a non-profit making national lottery?
George Roberts, UK
Given that one of the main aims of the National Lottery is to support good causes, I have always felt it wrong that Camelot made so much money for itself. For every ludicrous bonus Camelot paid its bosses, another 'good cause' went without. I believe 'The People's Lottery' reflects the original ethics of the National Lottery by handing over its profits to these causes.
Camelot didn't do themselves any good over the allegations of bribery (GTech) and the amounts paid to the directors. Why not give Branson a go? Maybe he can get more actually spent (not allocated) on good causes.
Who cares, just as long as the poor and disadvantaged keep wasting their money on tickets and scratchcards, thus lowering my taxes?
Richard Branson should have had the licence to run the lottery from the first. I run the works syndicate, and so many people have dropped out because of the enormous profits made by Camelot. Now hopefully, if Richard Branson is in charge, more people will have faith as to where their money will be going.
Camelot has done nothing wrong. They have made fantastic money for the National Lottery and made it a huge success. The media hype at the launch was phenomenal. Camelot has taken a battering from the press and public misconceptions. Why give the contract to Richard Branson? If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Benjamin Dyer, Scotland
No, he should not get it. He should have a close look at his array of businesses and assess how customers have reacted to his services over the last year. I have had bad experiences and maybe when he develops a core business, he can concentrate better on customer satisfaction.
The only people who have truly won the jackpot on the lottery so far are Camelot. My vote goes to whoever will increase prizes (size and/or number) and charitable donations, and cut the politically correct garbage out of the grant application process. So far that applicant appears to be Branson. I hope, if he gets it, that it runs with the professionalism of Virgin Atlantic.
Richard Branson gets enough publicity from his activities with the Virgin Group of companies. He does not need to be in the lottery limelight at all. I fail to understand the motivation for his wanting to take part in the project other than to promote the Virgin cause courtesy of a truly national platform.
Andy Cooper, UK
Give the lottery to Branson. A non-profit making lottery the way it should be. The lottery commission wastes enough money with -out the operator taking a cut
I have one thing to say: Virgin Railways.
Sir Dickie puts out a lot of spin on his activities, rather like New Labour. He also has something of a track record of promising the earth and then not delivering. Whilst Camelot are not perfect and GTech certainly have something to answer for, in the end I'm left to feel it's a shame there wasn't a third bidder.
Stephen Hancock, Reading, UK
Give it to Richard and lets hope he spreads it more wisely than Camelot. Reduce the amount going to stupid left wing so called 'arts' causes and put more into things like cancer research that will benefit more of the nation.
I stopped playing the lottery after a few months, when the novelty wore off, and certainly the likes of Richard Branson could re-energise the system. The only quibble I have is a sneaking suspicion that Mr Branson loves casting himself as the put-upon underdog, battling away against the corporate giants like BA and now Camelot. This populist approach would be fine, if we ignored the fact that his considerable fortune bears witness to the fact that he has done exceedingly well and that his enterprises can hardly be described as corporate minnows.
The main thing above all is that Branson's bid is non-profit making, the way the lottery always should have been. This reminds of the time he saw off the dirty tricks and profiteering of BA, let's hope he can do the same to Camelot.
I think to point the finger at GTECH is wrong. It was an individual at that company who made an extremely bad error in judgement, but should the hard working people of that company have to suffer because on fat cat screwed up??
I don't mind who runs it as long as they pick the right numbers ..... just once!
Giving the lottery to Branson and Bill Gates...will it crash as often as the balloons or Windows 9x?
Seriously, I do hope the many small shops and post offices which get much needed income from lottery sales continue to be the main outlets.
I feel sorry for Camelot today. They deserve to be congratulated in establishing the Lottery infrastructure with relatively few hiccups, considering the size of the exercise. They do deserve bad press with regard to GTECH and salaries. Although, is it necessary to dissolve something that works and works well, rather than re-inventing the wheel. Can Sir-Richard's bid really be something better than what is already established?
Isn't it about time someone else ran the lottery anyhow. Camelot has made way to much money for themselves in something which should be run as a non-profit scheme anyhow. The amounts of money paid to the managers should have been going to needy charities and other deserving causes. Bring on Richard Branson, a man who has proven himself in business and in life as being a successful person.
RB seems to get everywhere these days! As there were only 2 applicants and Camelot have had 7 years to use their creative juices getting us to play its is time for a change. If RB can prove his bid is workable then why not.
They should cut the "worthy causes" nonsense out of the lottery equation. If you do the lottery to give to "good causes", then you are stupid as this is an inefficient way of making a charitable donation. Far better would be to put all the money into prizes. Imagine - every week a £50 million jackpot! If people then choose to pay extra tax, or donate funds to opera, let them do so. At least they will have the satisfaction of knowing all their donation reaches the intended tartget. So who cares who runs it, just as long as it is efficient!
Whether Richard Branson is allowed to run the lottery or not should have nothing to do with how many "pies" he already has his fingers in. What SHOULD matter is what the lottery is intended for - the charities who benefit from the money raised. Mr Branson's pledge to give ALL raised money to charity rather than funding already over-fat board members and shareholders should be commended, and Camelot should be taught a lesson and thrown out on its ear. Giving the lottery to a company who value profit over good causes was a mistake in the first place. Nobody should make money out of charity.
An unreserved yes. Richard Branson has always seemed a man of integrity, but regardless of that a non-profit lottery is obviously better - profiteering Camelot have shown many times their main driving force is greed. I'm sure that everyone who enters would be far happier knowing that if they don't win as much of their money as possible is going to charity, rather than making someone else (who has probably never even bought a ticket!) very rich instead.
I hope everyone spares a thought for the 800 employees at Camelot who have worked their socks off to make the UK lottery the best in the world. Camelot did a great job and was recognised as the best in the world and I hope today people spare a thought for the staff at Camelot as this news is reported.
Give Sir Richard a shot! He's had a lot of bad press but he really is the one person in this country who would give us fair deal. Besides, nothing could be worse than the absolute con of a lottery provided by Camelot. Bad publicity appears to be the order of the day for them! They've made a mockery of something which could be an extremely beneficial and charitable lottery. It stuns me that the company has been allowed to continue it's policy of 'Fat Cat' salaries.
Richard Branson wishes to use the Lottery as a promotional vehicle, whilst not profiting directly the promotion of the Virgin brand name is worth millions a year to him... why can't Camelot be left to carry on, after all they have made this lottery the worlds most successful.
Mr Branson should DEFINITELY be given the opportunity to run the national lottery. He consistently identifies key areas within the marketplace where the consumer is being "short changed" and rectifies the situation. With areas ranging from trans-Atlantic travel through to mobile communications he seems to deliver fair services to the consumer and I feel that once again, with the lottery he will deliver an unbeatable product.
Whilst I have nothing against Richard Branson running the lottery, I find it hard to understand latest decision. If neither bid is acceptable, how can it be fair only to allow one side to sort out the position? Surely it would be better for both Camelot and the People's Lottery to have a month to resolve the problems, and then let the commission decide. Also, if the problem with Camelot is bug-ridden software, how come they are happy with the People's Lottery since it is backed by Microsoft, notorious for producing software full of errors!
Let's let Branson in on this! And whilst were at it, lets ask him to work his magic on the current fuel price joke!
I think Branson should be given a chance to run the lottery. The general public appear to want smaller wins to more winners!
Kirk Kenny, UK
Yes I think it is about time someone else took over the lottery. Camelot have not done enough for good causes except their own pockets, and I don't think Richard would line his pockets as well.
It's amazing that an organisation that gives so much of its revenue away to good causes has failed to have a good public image. If reputation is anything to go by, Branson should get it.
Is this more cronyism? No profit for the Peoples' Lottery' but profit through mobile phone and internet links!
It's about time we have a change. Moreover, it's going to be non-profitable.
Amanda Wood, England
I would prefer less big prizes, more chance of winning a small prize and much more money being given to good causes. If Richard Branson can deliver that, then he should be given the chance. So far Camelot have shown that they cannot, they're more interested in lining their own pockets.
Let's hope he runs it better than he runs his trains and his hot air balloons!
23 Aug 00 | Business
Branson close to lottery coup
23 Aug 00 | Business
Lottery Commission statement
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