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Friday, 10 November, 2000, 13:14 GMT
Lottery battle back on
National Lottery
Controversy has dogged the bidding process
The Lottery Commission has said both Camelot and the People's Lottery are back in the race for the battle to run the National Lottery.

Both firms were given a month to resubmit their applications after the High Court ruled the commission's decision to negotiate solely with the People's Lottery had been unfair.

The commission said both new bids for the seven-year licence have now been looked at in detail.


[We] look forward to a decision which will bring to an end this period of uncertainty

Camelot
But the news means a decision on the long-term future of the Lottery is unlikely until mid-December.

Camelot's bid was originally rejected because the commission had doubts about the American company GTech, which supplies Camelot's lottery terminals and software.

The commission has now agreed a plan to get round that problem by taking over GTech's operations in Britain.

Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard: Maybe, just maybe
Meanwhile the People's Lottery, run by tycoon Richard Branson, has found an extra 50m in financial backing.

BBC arts correspondent Nick Higham says the licence will go to whichever bidder promised most money in its original application for good causes.

This is a question the commission has agreed to look at afresh.

Camelot said the announcement vindicated its decision to go to the High Court to challenge the commission's decision to exclude the company.

'End uncertainty'

"We are particularly encouraged by the commission's decision to revisit the evaluation of both bids without preconception," said a spokesman.

"We look forward to a decision which will bring to an end this period of uncertainty for Camelot's 800 staff and 35,000 retailers."


We are obviously pleased that we have passed the first hurdle

The People's Lottery
A spokeswoman for The People's Lottery said the company was "confident" of victory in the selection process.

"We are obviously pleased that we have passed the first hurdle given that the commission has given a firm undertaking that the principle bids cannot be altered," she added.

Lord Burns will now lead the decision-making process to award the next licence.

'Announcement in December'

In a statement the commission said each company "now has the potential to meet the primary criteria in the legislation setting up the National Lottery".

It added that it hopes to announce the outcome by mid-December.

The Lottery Commission, which was due to choose the next lottery operator in July, said in August that neither of the bids was good enough.

But two months later it decided to negotiate solely with the People's Lottery, spearheaded by Richard Branson.

The subsequent furore led to the resignation of commission chairman Dame Helena Shovelton, since replaced by former Treasury official Lord Burns.


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