Which in a way they were. A new multi-billion-pound industry was born a few seconds later, when the news filtered through that Peter Davis, the National Lottery's director-general, had decided to award Camelot the seven-year lottery monopoly licence.
As a result, this November will see the group mastermind the largest-ever new consumer product launch. Already Camelot - which pumped several millions of pounds into its bid, far more than any other applicant - is gearing up for a spending spree.
It has pounds 50m in equity from its five shareholders - sweetmaker Cadbury Schweppes, security printer De La Rue, communications group Racal and controversial US lottery operator, G-Tech. Each of these has a 22.5 per cent stake, while the remaining 10 per cent is held by ICL, the Japanese computer manufacturer.
On top of that Camelot has pounds 75m in borrowing facilities from the Bank of Scotland. Over the next 26 weeks it will be pumping a sizeable slice of that into preparations for the lottery's debut.
There are those who have their doubts about whether it will work, given that the management is such a disparate rag- bag of individuals from each of the shareholding companies. Tim Holley, chief executive, comes from Racal. Norman Hawkins, sales director, is from Cadbury. Peter Murphy, finance director, is ex-De La Rue, as is the communications director, David Rigg, while David Clark, head of lottery operations, used to run the Canadian lottery.
Mr Holley insists that every member of the key management team, which has been together for almost a year, 'has already jumped the fence' to put Camelot's interests, rather than those of their parent company, first.
If he is right and teamwork can indeed defeat partisanship, the lottery promises a bonanza for some - not least Saatchi & Saatchi, which will handle the initial pounds 50m-plus advertising budget.
Indeed, advertising and marketing is expected to run at between 1 and 1.5 per cent of turnover - something set to be a godsend for the television groups and newspapers that will be the focus of it.
Not that the BBC will be left out. It is expected to pick up the jackpot, the Saturday evening live draw, which could attract audiences of 23 million and create the top-rated television show.
But the really big gainers from the lottery will be the communications, computer terminal and know-how suppliers - and, naturally, the Camelot consortium members will have first bite at the biggest cherries.
Racal, ICL, De La Rue and G-Tech will be the big gainers. The main lottery, which will be launched first, will be a computerised on-line game, (though instant, 'scratch card' games will follow next spring) so expenditure on equipment will be heavy.
The initial aim is to ensure that at least 80 per cent of the population will live or work near an outlet by the time the first game is played.
Camelot's main game will be based on a 'play slip' - a piece of paper with five blocks of 49 numbers on it. For pounds 1 per block, the player selects six numbers on a block and hands the slip back to the shopkeeper.
The shopkeeper inserts it into a dedicated terminal, which will register the selected numbers for transmisson to the lottery processing centres at Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, and Aintree, Merseyside.
De La Rue will print the play slips - generating it an estimated pounds 5m to pounds 10m of profits - while its fellow consortium member, ICL, will be responsible for supplying the terminals.
Around 10,000 terminals - a figure that will rise to 27,000 by the end of 1996 - will be given away free by Camelot to selected shops, garages, sub-post offices and the like around the country. (A further 12,000 outlets will deal only with the instant games.)
At a likely cost of about pounds 5,000 each, together with a lucrative servicing and support contract, ICL expects that over the life of the licence the total contract value will be around pounds 100m - which could mean profits of pounds 10m.
The terminals will be linked, via BT phone lines - the company has promised to install at least 500 a week - to an existing communication network owned by Racal, another Camelot shareholder.
This network currently serves 42 government departments, with 150,000 users in nearly 6,000 different locations. Racal will have to install 1,100 'concentrators' around the country as buffers between the BT lines and the network in order to connect the lottery.
But it insists that the network will be more than capable of handling the resulting 10 to 20 per cent increase in traffic - particularly since this will peak on Friday and Saturday, when civil servants make the least use of the system.
Analysts estimate that network hardware plus charges for use of its network could mean profits for Racal of about pounds 12m over the life of the licence.
The network will feed the information to Aintree and Rickmansworth, where Camelot's other large shareholder G- Tech, will earn its supply contract profits by providing games designs, analysis and lottery know-how.
The US lottery organiser's reputation has been badly dented over the last year.
The less obvious beneficiary from supplying the consortium is Cadbury Schweppes. It will provide 'marketing' expertise plus a database of outlets.
But unlike the other Camelot shareholders, Cadbury is less interested in the potential for supply contracts. Instead, its position in Camelot is defensive - confectionery is one of the areas of spending likely to fall as a result of the lottery.
When a national lottery was introduced in Ireland sweet spending took a hefty battering - although it did recover later. So Cadbury is determined to switch lost sweet earnings into its share of potential Camelot profits.
Estimates of how much these will be vary. But calculations conservatively suggest they should be at least pounds 400m over the life of the licence.
The numbers are huge, which is why they pose such threats as well as such opportunities. Over the seven-year lifespan of its licence Camelot expects to sell lottery tickets worth more than pounds 32bn.
In its peak year towards the end of the licence it expects its turnover to be worth more than pounds 5.5bn. This is far more than the pounds 3.8bn a year spent on newspapers and magazines, or the pounds 4.2bn we fritter away on sweets.
Yet Camelot's figures may be an underestimate. Many believe that the peak may be higher, and achieved more quickly.
Richard Branson's UK Lottery Foundation had been working on a total turnover for the lottery of pounds 37bn over the seven years of the licence, with a peak year in excess of pounds 6.5bn.
That could have meant that the Foundation - which proposed giving all its profits (though not those of suppliers) to good causes - would have made total profits of more than pounds 600m.
But the billions that will be spent on lottery tickets every week will have to come from somewhere, and the chances are that discretionary spending items such as magazines, sweets and cigarettes will be significant losers.
The most vulnerable sectors, though, are likely to be charities and gambling.
The lottery is bound to be heavily promoted as a way of giving to the good causes it is expected to fund - the Arts and Sports Councils, the Millenium Fund to build projects to celebrate the year 2000, the National Heritage Memorial Fund and charities.
As a result, charities - especially those heavily dependent on street donations - expect their income to fall substantially. Ironically, despite receiving a fifth of the proceeds from the National Lottery Distribution Fund, the body set up to collect and distribute the 25 to 30 per cent of turnover Camelot has agreed to donate, charities may end up net losers because of the lottery.
Based on its experience of what happened in Ireland and on research work, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations estimates that charities could lose between pounds 120m and pounds 230m in donations as people switch spending to pay for lottery tickets.
Brokers BZW go further: they expect around pounds 270m of the pounds 2.3bn average net annual spend (after prizes have been paid back) on the National Lottery to be switched from charitable donations.
Yet according to Camelot's own figures, the maximum that charities will receive from the fund is a fifth of the estimated pounds 9bn that it expects to hand over during the licence's lifespan - an average of pounds 250m a year.
The other area in which people are expected to cut back in order to be able to afford to buy lottery tickets is gambling.
BZW estimates that around pounds 225m will come from gambling, and that the pools will contribute the lion's share of this. Indeed, the brokers predict the virtual annihilation of Ladbroke-owned Vernons and Littlewoods, privately owned by the Moores family.
Some companies could be in for a rough ride.
A prototype play slip shows five boxes of 49 numbers, played at pounds 1 a time. Players choose six numbers from each box played, blacking them out with a pencil. The computer registers the play and provides a print-out for the player. Odds against picking the six that come up in the live TV draw (like the New York millionaire, left) and winning a jackpot of pounds 3m to pounds 5m, are seen at 14 million to one. Picking three out of six may pay pounds 10; four out of six, pounds 50; five out of six could be worth 'thousands' and jackpots will be carried forward if no one wins.
The successful bidder: pre-tax profits of pounds 400m.
Camelot's shareholders: Cadbury Schweppes, De La Rue, Racal, G-Tech (each with 22.5 per cent) and ICL (10 per cent).
The principal suppliers: sales of pounds 300m and pre-tax profits of pounds 45m; De La Rue, Racal, G-Tech, ICL.
The lottery draw winners: to share 50 per cent of lottery turnover, or pounds 16bn
Good causes: 28 per cent of lottery turnover, pounds 9bn, to be shared by the Arts Council, Sports Council, National Heritage Memorial Fund, Millenium Fund and charities.
Treasury: 12 per cent of lottery turnover, pounds 3.84bn.
Ticket vendors: some 35,000 retailers (65 per cent independently owned); sub-post offices; garages, supermarkets, corner shops.
The unsuccessful bidders and their backers: The Enterprise Lottery (Thorn-EMI, General Electric, The Tote, Autotote Corp); Games for Good Causes (Ladbroke, MAI and Caledonia Investments); The Great British Lottery Company (Granada, Vodafone, Carlton Communications, Hambros, Associated Newspapers and Automated Wagering International); LotCo (Rank Organisation); Rainbow UK (Sir Patrick Sheehy and Richard Wheatley); The Lottery (Rothschild Tattersall); UK Lotteries (Richard Branson, Lord Young).
Companies that benefit from discretionary consumer spending; at stake are sales of more than pounds 10bn on alcohol, tobacco, sweets, drinks, newspapers, magazines.
The gaming industry: betting shops, pools operators, casinos, Premium Bonds.
Charities: lost donations.
Retailers not selected to sell tickets.
Estimates are over seven years of licence, assuming turnover of pounds 32bn.
----------------------------- HOW WE SPEND ----------------------------- pounds bn Catering 35.7 Alcohol 25.7 Tobacco 10.5 Confectionery 4.2 Newspapers & magazines 3.8 Soft drinks 3.4 Gambling (net of prizes) Fruit machines 1.03 Betting 1.2 Pools .6 Bingo .08 Casinos .40 The lottery 2.3? Annual expenditure -----------------------------
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