Another Lottery for Branson?

8 January 2001
For Richard Branson the old adage, "If at first you don't succeed, try again", seems to be his guiding muse when it comes to operating a lottery. After having failed twice to get the opportunity to run the U.K. National Lottery, he's considering launching his own rival lottery. Such a move requires approval by the U.K. Gaming Board, and would, under government regulations, be limited to a smaller-scale and smaller payout amounts.

"There are a number of quite interesting possibilities that we are assessing at the moment," Simon Burridge, the CEO of the People's Lottery consortium (which spearheaded Branson's most recent attempt to win the National Lottery license) told Sky News. "Ultimately our decision will depend on whether or not we think that launching such an alternative would increase the amount of money that goes to good causes."

The People's Lottery consortium guaranteed it would pay more money to various good causes should it win the National Lottery contract. With this promise in mind, Branson and other People's Lottery officials suggest that the National Lottery Commission was wrong in awarding the contract again to Camelot. When the Commission's decision was announced late last month, Branson began considering whether to contest it. "Before Christmas the People's Lottery wrote to the Lottery Commission asking for further explanation as to why they had chosen Camelot rather than us, given that in the summer they said our bid was more generous to good causes," a spokesperson said.

"They sent back a reply saying basically they weren't going to answer our questions while we were still debating whether to seek a judicial review. We asked for a face-to-face meeting, but I understand that they are not planning to accept that invitation."

The Commission responded by saying, "It is incumbent upon us as a public body to make sure that we have explained any decisions we made and we have done so in black and white, in plain English and in detail." A six-page statement accompanied the Commission's decision to explain the reasons why Camelot's bid was chosen over The People's Lottery.

This is the second time Branson battled Camelot for control of the National Lottery, which is considered the world's largest and best-run lottery in the world. Branson reportedly spent £30 million from his own funds for his latest try for the National Lottery.