UK National Lottery operator Camelot has a new UK CEO and a new plan to stop the slide in lottery sales, but rivals are gunning for the company’s National Lottery operating rights.
On Tuesday, Camelot chairman Jo Taylor announced the appointment of Nigel Railton as the new permanent CEO of Camelot UK. Railton (pictured), who has been conducting a strategic review of its UK operations, will be tasked with giving National Lottery sales a well-needed kick up the backside.
Camelot announced Tuesday that National Lottery ticket sales in the period spanning April 1 to September 23 totaled £3.28b, a decline of 3.2% over last year’s fiscal H1 performance. The total amount Camelot returned to good causes fell 4.7% to £746.6m.
Railton admitted that falling sales were “never welcome” but considered the decline to be within the range of what the company had forecast in June. Railton said the company was already “seeing early signs of improvement” that would provide “a great springboard to return to growth next year.”
Camelot’s turnaround plan is based on four main principles, including improving its range of games, enhancing its retail offering by doubling its sales force and spending £20m on retail initiatives, and ‘reinvigorating’ the National Lottery brand by emphasizing a ‘One National Lottery’ campaign.
There’s also plans to upgrade the National Lottery’s digital capability, and also to make its digital platforms “even more robust and secure.” Camelot’s digital operations scored a couple PR own-goals last year by rushing out a not-ready-for-prime-time National Lottery mobile app and the unfortunate leak of private customer data.
Camelot’s contract to run the National Lottery expires in 2023 but the UK government is expected to begin fielding offers from prospective operators as early as 2019. Among those expected to throw their hat into the ring is newspaper baron Richard Desmond, who currently runs the UK Health Lottery.
Speaking to the Financial Times last week, Martin Ellice, joint managing director of Desmond’s Northern and Shell company, confirmed that the group would bid for the National Lottery contract, saying “we’re in the lottery business now.” Northern and Shell is expected to emphasize its UK roots while making its pitch, contrasting with Camelot, which is owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.