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Wednesday, 14 November, 2001, 07:55 GMT
Camelot denies lottery losing appeal
Lottery balls
Camelot says interest in the lottery has not wavered
An independent report published on Wednesday on the seventh anniversary of the lottery's launch, says ticket revenue from the Saturday game has fallen by 20m since 1997. BBC News Online's Tom Geoghegan investigates why sales have dropped.

Camelot has denied that National Lottery ticket sales are falling.

The company insisted that the 16% drop in the Saturday game had been offset by a 21% incremental sales increase in the midweek lottery game.

A spokeswoman said people were not losing interest and that the total sales of tickets had been maintained, at 90m a week.

She said: "The Saturday game has decreased, but it was expected because as with other lottery games overseas, the sales are always high when it is introduced, then the trial period finishes.
Lottery facts so far
342.3m unclaimed
16.3bn prizes
1213 millionaires
148.5m sales in one week, Jan 1996

"We've introduced new types of games to try to appeal to different people.

"Some people like to just play to win the jackpot, while others prefer more prizes."

In June Camelot promised an aggressive marketing campaign after sales dipped below 5bn for the first time in four years.

But it has met its target of raising 10.5bn for good causes in its first seven years.

The report, called An Economist's Guide to Lottery Design, was written by Professor Ian Walker of Warwick University and Juliet Young of the National Economics Research Associates.

It was published as a review of the first seven years before Camelot begins its new licence in January 2002.

Runaway success

The report concluded that the initial runaway success of the lottery was hit by the introduction of the midweek game.

It said: "While the Wednesday draw has been successful by international standards, regularly selling about 25m, its introduction has reduced Saturday sales dramatically.

"Now Saturday plus Wednesday sales only just match Saturday sales before the midweek game was launched."
National Lottery ticket
Camelot's new licence starts in January

It said that Lottery Extra, which is just one jackpot prize, had flopped. However, Camelot pointed out that it generated revenues of 130m a year.

The report also observed that good causes revenue might be higher if the 'take-out' - the proportion of sales returned as prize money - were smaller.

But Camelot said sales would fall if the prize fund was reduced, because most people play to win, not to give to charity.

Tax on the poor?

The firm denied it was a tax on the poor by saying there was no evidence to suggest people on low incomes spent proportionately more money on tickets than others.

It would not divulge if there were any changes planned for the new licence, although it did concede there would be a one-off, Christmas Millionaire Maker game.

A spokeswoman also said that there were plans for expanding into other areas such as mobile phones, digital television and the internet over the next couple of years.

Camelot was controversially given the new licence by the National Lottery Commission, ahead of Richard Branson's People's Lottery.

See also:

24 May 01 | Business
Camelot hit by big fall in sales
27 Jun 01 | Business
Camelot faces 'charity shortfall'
26 Jul 01 | Business
Big payouts for lottery chiefs
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