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I'm always wary of writing about lottery operator Camelot, since anything 'off message' provokes a response worthy of Alastair Campbell.

But for once, let me write something nice about it.

Dianne Thompson, Camelot’s chief executive, came in for a bashing from Sir Richard Branson when the lottery licence came up for renewal four years ago. To her credit, she has stuck it out and is starting to reap the rewards.

Lottery sales are set to start growing again, after steadily sliding during the last six years. Lotteries tend to go into a decline as players lose interest, so Thompson deserves credit for turning the tide.

How has she done it? In short, new games. The original game, Lotto (remember Billy Connolly and those irritating ads?) continues to decline, but sales are being boosted by games such as EuroMillions, a pan-European lottery offering mega-jackpots.

I still feel the lottery has become too complicated, but Thompson says regular players are unfazed by the variety of games on offer. The issue, rather, is persuading non-players, particularly in the 18-24 age group and posh ‘AB’ category punters, to come aboard. It hopes to ensnare them using mobile phones, the internet and interactive TV.

Still, it is plain sailing compared with the old days of ‘fat cattery’ and attacks from rabid Labour luvvies. Thompson’s predecessor, Tim Holley, has slipped into semi-retirement, while David Rigg, Camelot’s former marketing frontman, now runs his own consultancy and hosts high-profile media lunches at Soho House, up the road from Accountancy Age.

No such joy for Peter Davis, the former lottery regulator who also happens to be a former director of Equitable Life.

  • Jon Ashworth is business features editor of The Times.

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