EXCLUSIVE: Secret documents reveal future of National Lottery
Parties bidding on National Lottery contract are being urged to focus on 'technology-based products'
Documents sent by regulators to those competing to run The National Lottery after 2023 include terms changes that challenge the role stores play in providing the services to the public.
Freedom of information requests by betterRetailing revealed more than a dozen draft documents sent to prospective Lottery operators by the Gambling Commission explaining planned changes in licence terms and objectives.
The documents repeatedly call on bidding parties such as Camelot and Virgin to place greater importance on [online and app-based] “technology-based products”.
“Developing the channel mix to adapt to ever-changing participant tastes and evolving technologies is seen as critical,” it states.
To help the operator develop in this way, the Gambling Commission plans to remove the current minimum retail location requirement.
The documents explain that retail coverage obligations would be “significantly reduced from current requirements, and the licencee will have much greater discretion to develop its retailer strategy outside of regulation”.
This means that, unlike in the current licence agreement, it will be up to the licence holder to decide what counts as a physical sales location, and whether or not a dedicated National Lottery terminal is required.
The change opens existing Lottery-partnered stores up to competition from a wider range of location types.
The winning operator will still have to ensure a lower target of one physical sale location per postcode with more than 2,000 inhabitants.
The new contract for The National Lottery will also allow for “greater discretion on retailer commission”, as long as it “incentivises retailers to sell National Lottery products effectively”.
The new National Lottery operator will be given new powers to change and adapt games.
The descriptions of licensed lotteries such as EuroMillions will no longer include retail or other channel-related requirements.
Current limits on how many times a jackpot can roll over, additional funding for promotional draws, and the topping up of jackpots with additional funds are all under review and may be dropped.
For card-based games, the requirement that no more than 80% of scratchcards can be priced higher than £1 is to be removed, opening up the possibility of more higher-value, higher-commission games being made available to stores.
Also axed is the requirement for specific technical information to be made available on the front and back of cards, and procedures that slow down launching new cards and rerunning old ones.
The draft timeline, pending feedback from applicants said ‘Phase One’ for applications to run the Lottery were due to begin in April and close in August.
A decision is due to be made in February 2021, with the new operator and licence terms coming into effect in February 2023.
Asked about the documents, a Camelot spokesperson told betterRetailing: “We are studying the detail of the draft ITA [invitation to apply] that the Gambling Commission has issued to interested parties, so we are unable to comment on the specifics at this moment in time.
“However, more generally, our firm belief is that retailers are passionate advocates for The National Lottery and play a vital part in its success.
“Consumers are leading ever more digital lives and we’re committed to serving them in a modern and engaging way, but many brands are successfully using digital technology to enrich their retail environment and we take the same view.
“Even as the high street changes, we believe that retailers will continue to play a crucial role at significant scale.
“They do a brilliant job in their communities across the UK, and can expect support from Camelot.”
In a cover statement sent to potential licence applicants disclosed to betterRetailing, Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur said: “We have been scouring the globe for the best and most innovative ideas to take The National Lottery forward in the next stage of its journey.
“I am encouraged by a healthy level of interest we have received from a wide range of parties and welcome as many applicants as possible.”
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