Three heavy­weights lim­ber up for Na­tional Lot­tery bat­tle

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By

Oliver Gill A TRIO of busi­ness heavy­weights were last night lim­ber­ing up as bat­tle commences for the right to run the Na­tional Lot­tery.

Cur­rent op­er­a­tor Camelot is ex­pected to go head-to-head with firms owned by ty­coon Richard Des­mond and Czech bil­lion­aire Karel Ko­marek for a 10-year li­cence start­ing in 2023 that will gen­er­ate hun­dreds of mil­lions of pounds in profit. Af­ter invit­ing ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est al­most a year ago, the Gam­bling Com­mis­sion will to­day for­mally fire the start­ing gun on what is likely to be the City’s most hotly con­tested race this year.

Neil McArthur, the reg­u­la­tor’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, said he had been “en­cour­aged by a healthy level of in­ter­est from a range of dif­fer­ent par­ties”.

The Gam­bling Com­mis­sion is ex­pected to is­sue an “in­vi­ta­tion to ap­ply doc­u­ment” to suit­ors that lays out the terms and con­di­tions of the process.

The Sun­day Tele­graph re­vealed last year that Sir Richard Bran­son and Mr Ko­marek’s Sazka Group were in­ter­ested par­ties. While the Vir­gin Group founder ruled him­self out ear­lier this year, Sazka has bol­stered its team by hir­ing Flint Global, a public af­fairs firm that em­ploys Dame Sue Owen, the for­mer per­ma­nent sec­re­tary to the Depart­ment for Dig­i­tal, Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport. Mr Des­mond’s North­ern and Shell group runs the ri­val Health Lot­tery. A spokesman for Camelot said: “It’s only nat­u­ral that we are in­ter­ested in bid­ding. How­ever, we’re not in a po­si­tion to con­firm whether or not we’ll bid at this stage.”

A spokesman for Sazka said: “We have been con­sid­er­ing our po­si­tion on whether or not to par­tic­i­pate.”

The Health Lot­tery was ap­proached for com­ment.

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