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1994: Camelot wins UK lottery race

The Camelot consortium has won the contract to run Britain's first national lottery which starts in November.

The group predicts it will bring in a total of 32bn during the seven years of its licence. It plans to give 9bn of that to the lottery fund's five "good causes".

Camelot has pledged to give up to 30% of its takings to the fund split equally between charities, the arts, sport, National Heritage projects and a Millennium Fund.

From November, there will be a national draw each week when two people will share a jackpot of up to 5m to be announced on a special television programme - either on BBC or ITV, depending who wins the TV rights.

Each ticket will cost 1 and there will be smaller prizes - about 250,000 people are expected to win between 10 and a few thousand every week. Instant scratch cards will go on sale next spring.


"Camelot was clearly the all-round best applicant"

National lottery director-general Peter Davis

Camelot - owned by Cadbury Schweppes, bank note printer De La Rue, telecoms group Racal, US computer company GTech and British computer firm ICL - beat off seven other contenders.

They included the bookmakers' favourite UK Lottery Foundation headed by billionaire businessman Richard Branson and former cabinet minister Lord Young.

Announcing the decision, national lottery director-general Peter Davis said: "Camelot was clearly the all-round best applicant... They were strong in every department."

But Mr Branson was not happy with the choice and said his consortium would have given all profits not used to run the lottery to the nominated charities and the arts.

"With this business there is no risk. It's a licence to print money," he said. "For a few shareholders to cream off hundreds of millions of pounds from this is absolutely wrong."

Who gets the money?

  • 50% of sales spent on prize money
  • 12% spent on tax
  • 28% is divided between nominated charities
  • The rest goes to Camelot and retailers
  • In 2002 there were six "good causes" - arts, sports, charities, heritage, millennium projects and education, health and environment
  • More than 11bn has been given to these causes

    In Context
    After initial public enthusiasm, ticket sales began to deteriorate as did Camelot's public image.

    In 1997, three senior Camelot executives picked up six-figure bonuses, attracting criticism from the new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Chris Smith.

    From 1999 the lottery was regulated by the National Lottery Commission.

    There was considerable confusion over the bid for the next licence to run from September 2001.

    Bids submitted in August 2000 by Camelot and Mr Branson's People's Lottery were rejected for failing to meet "statutory criteria" - but the Commission decided to pick the People's Lottery anyway.

    Outraged, Camelot took the Commission to the High Court - and won.

    Bids were resubmitted and Camelot was granted a second term.

    Mr Branson decided not to contest the "cowardly" decision for fear of damaging the lottery.


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