BusinessCompany NewsNo competition for next Lottery

No competition for next Lottery

There is a serious threat that Camelot could face no competition when its licence to run the UK lottery expires in 2009, a powerful financial watchdog has warned.

According to the National Audit Office, the odds were stacked heavily in favour of the incumbent operator during the bidding process to run the lottery and that there was ‘a real risk there would be no competitive pressure when the next licence comes to be awarded’.

Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO, said: ‘There are constraints which may deter potential bidders and unless decisive steps are taken there may well be no competitive pressure next time.’

He added that the Lottery Commission and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport should do all they could to level the playing field and eliminate unnecessary demands on bidders.

Edward Leigh MP, the chairman of the powerful parliamentary Public Accounts committee, said: ‘I doubt whether any organisation will want to enter a competition, which may cost them several million pounds, unless that competition is demonstrably less burdensome than previously and they actually believe they could win it.’

The competition for the second licence in 2000 ran into contraversy when at first neither Camelot nor the People’s Lottery, backed by Sir Richard Branson, were awarded the licence – several months of legal wrangling followed until Camelot was finally awarded the licence.

Dame Helena Shovelton, chair of the Audit Commission, was forced to resign as chair of the Lottery Commission during the row.

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