The billionaire mogul who owns several newspapers and magazines, Richard Desmond, seems to be preparing a bid to acquire the rights to run the National Lottery.
Currently, Desmond also runs the Health Lottery. Now, he was said to be preparing a bid for the UK lottery in order to gain control over the game that is preferred by millions of UK residents on a weekly basis.
As reported by the Financial Times, the Mr. Desmond’s Northern and Shell group revealed that it was preparing an offer to purchase the Lottery. Over the last few years, Mr. Desmond has reportedly expressed his interest in the National Lottery, which is considered as one of the most valuable lotteries on a global scale. The bet is planned to be made through the company that is the owner of his newspaper and magazine titles.
Mr. Desmond Set an Acquisition Bid for the National Lottery
The UK lottery franchise has been held by Camelot, the company that manages the National Lottery, since 1994, when it was officially established. If Mr. Desmond and his company tries to acquire the Lottery, this would be the first attempt to get the franchise since the Virgin Group led by Sir Richard Branson failed to acquire it in 2000.
Camelot Group, which is currently the company that runs the National Lottery, has the right to do that until 2023, after the company was granted with a contract extension in 2012. The franchise renewal process is set to start in 2019. Back in 2010, the company was acquired by one of the largest pension funds in Canada, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan at the price of £389 million. A few years ago, in 2012, the High Court ruled against Camelot, which at the time insisted that the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) should officially cancel the operating license of the Health Lottery.
Earlier in 2016, the group revealed a review of its strategy, after it became clear that its ticket sales declined by 8.8% over the twelve months to March 31st. According to the operator, the greater the competition, the smaller the number of ticket sales that go to winners, good causes and of course, to the Treasury.
The joint managing director of Northern and Shell, Martin Ellice, confirmed for the Financial Times that the company was aimed to make the bid and that its eyes remain focused on the lottery business. No more comments on the matter were made on behalf of the company.
Mr. Desmond, who has been involved in negotiations to sell his newspaper assets to Trinity Mirror, has reportedly urged the Government to give its permission to National Lottery’s competitors to provide jackpot prizes estimated to £1 million. Back in 2011, he launched the Health Lottery, which is actually a collection of a total of 51 local society lotteries raising funds for health-related good causes. The maximum prize paid out by the Health Lottery amounts to £100,000.