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Tuesday, June 2, 1998 Published at 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK


Profit rise rounds off controversial year

Profits soar despite slump in scratchcard sales

Publication of Tueday's annual results marks the end of what has been something of an "annus horribilis" for Camelot.
  • The leaking of last year's profit and pay figures sparked a clash with the newly elected Labour Government which led directors to the brink of resignation after demands that they give up their bonus payments.
  • After a compromise was struck, the government later backed away from a manifesto pledge to install a non-profit making lottery operator when Camelot's licence expires in the year 2001.
  • Instead, the Government's Lottery Bill puts the emphasis on making the most for the Good Causes, opening the door for Camelot to win the licence again without having to forego further profit-making.
  • Further controversy was sparked off in February this year when Richard Branson won a libel victory against Camelot director Guy Snowden over allegations that the United States businessman tried to bribe the Virgin tycoon into pulling out of the bid for the first lottery licence.
    [ image: The Big Ticket show: critics accused the BBC of promoting a commercial product]
    The Big Ticket show: critics accused the BBC of promoting a commercial product
  • Mr Snowden was forced to resign as a director of Camelot and later from GTech, the company he founded.
  • The second victim in the fall-out from the court case was Oflot chief Peter Davis who resigned amid accusations that public confidence in the Lottery had been damaged by the scandal.
  • Camelot was then faced with the prospect of the lottery being plunged into chaos as an investigation was launched into whether GTech was a "fit and proper" company to benefit from it.
  • Eventually Camelot bought out GTech's shares, helping to persuade acting Oflot chief John Stoker to take no further action.
  • Controversy then flared over the new scratchcard game TV Dreams linked to a BBC gameshow, The Big Ticket, with a £100,000 top prize. Critics accused the BBC of promoting a commercial product, pouring cold water on the launch of an initiative on which Camelot had pinned its hopes of reviving flagging Instants sales.
  • In the event, the game has proved unpopular, with so few contestants coming forward to take part in the show that Camelot has been forced to relax the qualifications for appearing - and sales of scratchcards have stuck at around £14 million a week.

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02 Jun 98†|†UK
Camelot profits attacked

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