Branson abandons Lottery ambitions

Sir Richard Branson will not make another bid for the licence to run the National Lottery after losing out to Camelot for a second time.

Branson made the announcement after the National Lottery Commission’s decision by four votes to one to reinstate Camelot ahead of The People’s Lottery, a U-turn from an original decision in August when Camelot appeared to have been defeated.

Commission member Hilary Blume immediately tendered her resignation to secretary of state for culture, media and sport Chris Smith, saying she could not support the decision.

In a statement, Blume says: “I judged The People’s Lottery’s game plan and marketing preferable to Camelot’s.”

Branson says he is “baffled” by the decision, but congratulated Camelot on a good fight.

He adds: “Camelot has been given a licence for life today. They [the commission] might as well have given the licence to them from day one.

“There are always dangers in giving a contract to someone else, but that’s why we have a licence that can be changed. It will be interesting to see what happens in seven years.”

Dianne Thompson, Camelot’s new chief executive, says: “Our bid offers something for everyone. We promised to raise at least £15bn for the Good Causes, to pump £1bn of investment into the Lottery’s technology and keep the protection of our players at the core of our business.” The decision means J Walter Thompson, part of the People’s Lottery bid, will miss out on the lottery creative account.

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