23 Aug 2021  |   10:38pm IST

UK National Lottery Posts Record Sales but Operator May Still Lose Government Contract

UK National Lottery Posts Record Sales but Operator May Still Lose Government Contract

The State-franchised national lottery has recorded unprecedented sales volumes in the past year. Digital retail has been the driving force behind the trend, with consumers moving onto mobile lottery apps during nationwide lockdowns. Despite these results, the Lottery operator – Camelot Group – may lose the contract in an ongoing tender procedure, with India’s Sugal & Damani among the frontrunners.

Sales at an All-Time High in the Pandemic

The UK’s hugely popular National Lottery has seen another strong year, despite – or maybe because of – pandemic limitations. Media reports cite

record sales figures

for the 2020-2021 financial year, amounting to £8.37 billion ($11.80 bn). 

Total sales rose by 6% during 2020 (and up to March 31, 2021), as the Covid-19 pandemic had a notable effect on consumption patterns among British punters. Digital sales drove the entire product line up, growing almost 43% on an annual basis and reaching £3.51 billion. 

Camelot Group, the Lottery’s licensed operator, reported £4.85 billion in prizes paid out during the year, almost £350 million up from the year before. The nation has seen 389 lucky new millionaires in the process, while £1.89 billion was designated for the Good Causes Fund (as required by Parliament).

Indian Lottery Operator Up for the Job

While record sales might sound good for the Government’s Treasury, Camelot’s contract is expiring in less than two years and the UK Gambling Commission has launched a new bidding procedure for the lucrative contract. 

Bharat’s own Sugal & Damani – the country’s leading

online lottery

operator – might just be in line to succeed Camelot as an exclusive licensee. One of three major companies on the Indian lottery market, Sugal & Damani holds a dominant share and certainly has the experience and know how to operate on a large scale in the UK as well.


currently holds the highest Share of  Voice for cricket and betting related queries. 

Ever since Kerala regulated the lottery scene in 1967, replacing the

people’s favourite satta matka

with legal government-licensed numbers games, the State-run lotteries have fulfilled their potential. India’s immense markets have been covered both with land-based retailer networks and, more recently, with digital platforms and online access. 

Sugal & Damani have a claim to some pioneering business practices in the sector and come in strong on the back of decades of Government Licensed Lottery operations in several States across the Union. It had previously competed for the same contract back in 2007 when it came a close second to Camelot. 

The Czech Sazka Group (operating via its UK brand, Allwyn) and the Italian National Lottery operator Sisal are their

main competitors

this time around. Camelot is also reported as having declared official interest, although relevant documents were never formally revealed.

The Importance of Digital in Unstable Times

Regulated lottery draws may seem like a business niche which suffers no downturns, yet the reality was exposed by the pandemic. Camelot highlighted the growth in digital sales which compensated and outscored traditional retail sales. 

During nationwide lockdowns, when non-essential spending was drastically limited (or closed) in most land-based retail locations, consumers turned to their smartphones and mobile apps to get their lottery tickets online. While in-store sales went down by 10.7% during the period in question, mobile sales increased by £876.4 million to reach a record £2.48 billion, mostly via the National Lottery apps. 

Camelot accelerated some investment spending in its digital channels to accommodate for the record traffic volumes. The capacity to sustain further growth lies in better online channels and Sugal & Damani will do well to make the digital transition its main priority, should it be successful in its bid.


Idhar Udhar