Camelot will cease to exist if it loses National Lottery licence, it claims to High Court

Holly Saul and Ben Lowther, of Cambridge, who won £1m in a EuroMillions draw 

When Prime Minister John Major launched ticket sales for a new National Lottery in November 1994, he said Britain would be ‘a lot richer because of the lottery.’

‘It is in every sense the people’s lottery.’

Since then hundreds of millions of ticket stubs have been bought at shop kiosks and online, and some lucky 6,300 people have become overnight millionaires or multi-millionaires.

The lottery was a success from the start, with more than 20 million tuning in to watch the first ever draw on November 19, presented by Noel Edmonds.

The first Lotto numbers drawn were 30, 3, 5, 44, 14 and 22, the bonus was 10, and seven jackpot winners shared a prize of £5,874,778.

With a huge audience to entertain, the lottery attracted star talent to take part in draws, including the likes of comedian Bob Monkhouse, Monty Python star John Cleese and model Ulrika Jonsson.

Constant attempts to reinvent the offering for the primetime Saturday slot in the run-up to draw led 20 game shows over the years, such as Dale Winton’s In It to Win It and Brian Conley’s We’ve Got Your Number where contestants answered questions for cash prizes.

A second lottery draw, Thunderball, was introduced by Camelot on 12 June 1999.

Throughout the early 2000s and 2010s, Camelot saw off attempts to take over their licence and was renewed or extended four times until 2024. Its 28-year hold on the UK lottery has led Camelot to be described as one of the most efficient and robust lotteries in Europe, but has also meant criticism.

The excitement and novelty value of the weekly lottery draw is not what it used to be, and the game shows have not featured since 2017.

In 2018, Camelot was criticised over a falling amount of money raised for good causes, with a National Audit Office report finding that its profits had risen by 122% over seven years while returns to good causes only grew by 2%.

MPs have also criticised Camelot’s a move towards app-based games rather than traditional draws, claiming it risks worsening problem gambling and reducing the amounts given to good causes. 

More recently, Camelot has responded to declining sales by launching new products, such as Euromillions, with huge rollover jackpots, and Set for Life. where players can win £10,000 a month for 30 years.

It has also sought out new markets with scratchcards and online instant win games, which give players a much greater chance of winning small amounts of cash.

These games have proved popular, but because more money is handed out in prizes, a smaller percentage of the ticket price goes to good causes.


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