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National Lottery and Camelot

Lottery Dateline

1993: National Lottery Act 1993 passed. UK National Lottery comes into existence. Camelot Group created as a Public Limited Company.

1994: Camelot and 500 staff move into Watford HQ. Retail terminals into shops, which are all linked to a central computer. Network able to handle 400,000 plays per minute! ICL manufactured over 13,000 terminals in just 10 weeks. First 10,000 retailers receive play slips. TV advertising commences. 22 million homes mailshotted with lottery leaflets. Advertising launch cost £39m. UK National Lottery launched with fireworks 14th Nov. £7m of tickets sold in first 12 hours.  19th Nov was first draw hosted by Noel Edmonds; no millionaires created on first draw though! 4 millionaires created on 2nd draw 26th Nov.

Lottery and scratchcard tickets sales

1997: Jan: combined sales of lottery and scratchcard tickets now exceeds £10 billion since lottery started. Feb: A second draw on a Wednesday commenced, to supplement the Saturday draw. May: Profits drop from £51m last financial year to £46.8m. £4.7 billion of tickets in the year sold though. The department of National Heritage (in charge of lottery funding) was renamed to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Aug: A Coventry ticket unclaimed win of £408k expired and put into charity fund. This was only the second big unclaimed win that went unclaimed but was followed in September by a Wirral winning ticket of £552k which also went unclaimed and also released into the charity fund. Sept: A lottery syndicate of four from a pub in Dartford accidentally entered the winning number twice, winning £10.8m.

Double Rollover

1995: Jan: ticket sales exceeded 60 million in a week. Someone stole 5 terminals in Glasgow, printed out false tickets, and sold them for £1 each. Donations to charities fall by £70m due to lottery. Camelot average weekly profit rises to £300,000. July 1995: tickets sold total 2 billion. Prize money = £1 billion. Same amount raised for good causes by the Lottery. 30th December rollover: 1,400 tickets sold each second, 5.1 million in an hour.

1996: Double Rollover on 6th Jan: 5,000 tickets a second sold, 9m in one hour, 128m in the day. Camelot accounts show an average weekly profit of £1m. Camelot named as largest and most efficient lottery operator. Official website launched. In November, a £2m ticket unclaimed ticket expires; money goes into charity fund.

National Lottery Commission

1998: Camelot profits now £80m pa. November: Camelot’s previous more hopeful advertising slogan: “It could be you” changed to the less encouraging “Maybe, Just Maybe”. Commission paid to retailers reaches £1billion since lottery began (retailers get 5% commission and 1% of every prize they pay out >£10).

1999: April: National Lottery Commission formed. ‘Operation Child’ launched and 15,000 visits made by under 16 looking actors to catch out retailers selling to under-age children: one third of retailers visited found to be selling to under-age looking children.  June: Thunderball game launched, the third weekly draw; lower prizes but higher chance of winning (1:278,000 instead of 1:14m). Dec: Isle of Man gets lottery terminals, the first time Isle of Man residents been able to buy lottery tickets since the lottery began.


2000: The People’s Lottery Group vie with Camelot for running the lottery on the renewal of the Licence. The People’s Lottery group comprises Sir. Richard Branson, Microsoft, J. Walter Thompson (Advertising agency), Kellog, AWI, KPMG Consulting and Cisco systems. Camelot eventually secured the renewal of the licence.

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