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Thursday, 19 October, 2000, 05:55 GMT 06:55 UK
Camelot's licence may be extended
Lottery balls
There is no chance of the lottery stopping, says commission
National Lottery operator Camelot looks like having its licence extended because the Lottery Commission cannot meet its deadline to appoint a successor.

The next lottery operator was due to be appointed next September, but delays in deciding between Camelot and the People's Lottery means the original deadline will be missed.

The BBC's Media Correspondent Torin Douglas says Camelot is now in discussions with the Lottery Commission about an interim licence which would keep it in control of the national game for a further two months to December 2001.

But the Lottery Commission admitted Camelot may be running the lottery well into 2002 because retailers do not want to suffer upheaval over Christmas.

Series of delays

Many fear the weekly draw may have to be shut down, while a new operator works to install new equipment in thousands of retail outlets.

A Lottery Commission spokesman said: "There have been a series of delays, all of which sprung from the failure of the bids.

"We want to see the lottery introduced in a sensible way, and in a right and proper way for retailers."

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

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

That decision was overturned by the High Court, which ordered the commission to give Camelot further time to prepare their bid.

The Lottery Commission's chairman Dame Helena Shovelton resigned over the matter, following the court move.

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