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Wednesday, 25 October, 2000, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
Lottery decision 'as early as November'
Lottery tickets
Bidding for the lottery licence has been controversial
Lottery rivals Camelot and the People's Lottery could learn as soon as mid-November who will run the competition from 2001.

National Lottery Commission chairman Lord Burns said a decision on who should hold the next seven-year licence could come in November if only one of the parties met strict criteria.

An announcement could otherwise be expected by mid-December, he told a news conference on Wednesday.

Our task now is to bring the whole process to an end as quickly and as smoothly as possible

Lord Burns
Camelot and rival bidders the People's Lottery have put forward new submissions, following the rejection of their original bids in August.

Both companies were given a month to put right their applications, after the High Court ruled that the commission's decision to negotiate solely with the People's Lottery had been unfair.

This decision led to the resignation of commission chairman Dame Helena Shovelton, who has been replaced by former Treasury official Lord Burns.

A High Court Judge ruled last month that the commission had acted illegally by deciding to hold further talks only with Sir Richard Branson's People's Lottery.

Lord Burns said the four commissioners held partly responsible by the court should keep their jobs.

Lord Terry Burns
Lord Burns: Replaced Dame Helena Shovelton
He said: "Our task now is to bring the whole process to an end as quickly and as smoothly as possible."

"If we had to go through a long period of getting new commissioners then it would delay the whole process by several months.

"I am satisfied that they (the commissioners) will do a good job and remain open-minded."

Camelot submitted new documents on Monday to the commission, which it hopes will meet the concerns about its original bid.

They include detailed plans to take over the UK operations of G-Tech, the company which runs its terminals.

Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard is hoping it could be him
The commission said it had lost confidence in G-Tech's management.

A month ago, the People's Lottery - headed by Sir Richard Branson - submitted plans to put right its bid.

The Lottery Commission was due to appoint a successor to take over in September next year, but delays in the process mean that deadline is likely to be missed.

Lord Burns said talks with Camelot about an interim licence to run the Lottery when its seven-year tenure expires in September would now begin.

The short-term licence could be necessary if the People's Lottery wins the contract to run the game as Sir Richard Branson's outfit concedes it would need at least 12 months to have its operation in place.

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See also:

05 Oct 00 | UK
Camelot ups good cause cash
05 Oct 00 | UK Politics
Dame Helena: Lottery loser
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