Branson plots Gtech Lottery link-up

Richard Branson has approached National Lottery supplier Gtech with a plan to work together on a joint bid for the Lottery’s next licence.

The move comes only 18 months after a High Court battle between Branson and the then chairman of the US company, Guy Snowden, over allegations that Snowden tried to bribe him not to apply for the present licence.

Although Branson is considering mounting a bid for the next licence, a U-turn by regulator the National Lottery Commission means he will have to drop his original plans to mount a competitive tender for suppliers should his consortium be appointed. He will now have to appoint suppliers before making a bid.

Branson has reassembled the original team which organised his last bid, including John Jackson, now chief executive of Virgin Cosmetics, and a J Walter Thompson executive.

A spokesman says the consortium is talking to all sections of the lottery industry in an attempt to find the best suppliers.

Gtech says: “We were approached by Virgin, as we have been by a number of people. We are pleased that Virgin recognises the changes that have been made by Gtech over the past couple of years.”

However, the company says it will work exclusively with Camelot on its bid and “there is no question of us working with others”.

Some observers believe Camelot is likely to win the licence because of its tie-up with the Post Office.

One insider suggests the contract could be split, with Camelot handling the online game; and Virgin running scratchcard sales.

But a Branson spokesman says he would only be interested in running the online draw.

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