UKGC's competition update

UK National Lottery race sees record four final applications

UK National Lottery sign.
United Kingdom
Reading time 2:25 min
The license competition, launched in August 2020, moves into its final stage with the highest number of final applications received since the first license was awarded in 1994. Applicants will deliver presentations to the Gambling Commission, and the regulator aims to announce a preferred applicant in early 2022. The fourth National Lottery license is expected to commence in early 2024.

The UK Gambling Commission released Tuesday a Fourth National Lottery license competition update. The public body has received four final applications.

The competition for the license launched in August 2020, and is now moving into the final stage with four applicants submitting their proposals for final evaluation: this is the highest number of final applications received since the first license was awarded in 1994, the UKGC stated.

The evaluation process will now begin. It will include a presentation by each of the applicants to the Gambling Commission, facilitated by its lead adviser Rothschild & Co. The regulator aims to announce the Preferred Applicant in early 2022, with the fourth National Lottery license “expected to commence in early 2024.”

“We are delighted by the final number of applications we have received, which is unprecedented since the start of the National Lottery,” said John Tanner, Executive Director of 4NLC. “The Commission will now evaluate these applications in a clear and robust process.”

Tanner further stated that the aim is to run the best competition possible, in an open and fair manner, resulting in the best outcome for players and good causes.

“We look forward to appointing a licensee that will build on the National Lottery’s legacy and maximize the opportunities for innovation and creativity whilst protecting the special status of the National Lottery,” he added.

Since launching in 1994, National Lottery players have collectively raised more than £41 billion for 565,000 good causes across the United Kingdom, remarks the UKGC. It is one of the world’s largest lotteries and the current (third) license is due to expire in 2023. 

The next license seeks to build on that success by creating a framework that maximizes the opportunities for players and good causes to benefit from innovation and creativity, transforming lives through its contribution to the arts, sports, heritage and communities. 

A few key changes for the fourth license were announced last year. These include a fixed-term 10-year license, which means that the licensee has a clear period for investment planning and focusing on performance. Building on the National Lottery’s success, the new licensee will be asked to provide “greater flexibility” to maximize returns to good causes.

Moreover, a new incentive mechanism is set to ensure the licensee’s incentives and delivery are “closely aligned” with returns to good causes. The National Lottery will also work on protecting its brand, with the licensee being required “to foster stronger relationships” with the NL distributors, and funding to further strengthen the link between the lottery, its players, and good causes.

The preferred applicant was initially set to be announced in September 2021, a timeframe that ended up seeing a delay. As a result, the UK Gambling Commission extended the current license by six months, so the fourth license would begin in February 2024 with its new tender.

Camelot UK, the Lottery’s current contract, has operated the lottery since it was established in 1994 after winning new contracts both in 2001 and 2007. The group’s third and current ten-year license kicked off in 2009 and was subsequently extended by four years in March 2012.

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