Lottery player numbers drop by 3 million over four years

The National Lottery has lost nearly 3 million players over the past four years as consumers desert the game in huge numbers, according to figures revealed by operator Camelot.

The proportion of UK adults playing the Lottery has slipped from 75% in 2001/2 to 69% this year, according to Camelot’s Corporate Responsibility Report for 2006. If taken across the nation’s 48 million over-16s, this amounts to a loss of nearly 2.9 million customers.

But the figure has recovered slightly from last year’s low of 68%, this is thought to be a result of the strong take-up of the National Lottery’s interactive services.

The report also shows that long-term loss of customers has been off-set by a 10% rise in average weekly spend per player, which has increased from £2.64 in 2001/02 to £2.93 this year. It suggests that while fewer people are playing the lottery they are spending larger sums on it. Last year, Camelot reported a 5% rise in sales to over £5bn.

The figures put pressure on Camelot to lure back players who have abandoned the Lottery. This week culture secretary Tessa Jowell admitted that the National Lottery would have to raise £900m more than its original target of £1.5bn to fund the 2012 Olympics.

This comes after estimates for the cost of the project spiralled by 40%. It is understood that extra cash could be taken from Lottery funds earmarked for sports projects.

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