Ladbroke bids for lottery: Hundreds of jobs are promised if move is successful

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The Independent Online
LADBROKE yesterday promised to bring several hundred jobs to Liverpool, where unemployment is running at more than 15 per cent, if it succeeds in its bid to run the National Lottery.

The betting-to-property group was announcing its intention to apply for the licence to run the lottery in partnership with Lord Hollick's MAI and the American telecoms group NCR, a subsidary of AT&T.

Ladbroke said it would base the lottery operation in Liverpool. It has already explored property options, but refused to say what these were. However, the group is known to have recently built a headquarters building in the city for its Vernons Pools subsidiary, which is as yet only part occupied.

Sir Christopher Benson, chairman of the consortium that will be called 'Games for Good Causes', said the choice of Liverpool gave an 'added flavour' to the bid, although it did not form its essence. That came from the experience brought to the bid by Vernons and MAI.

MAI owns 66 per cent of Meridian, the South-west broadcaster, and has already been exploring formats for televising the lottery.

Ladbroke and MAI will jointly underwrite the estimated pounds 200m investment necessary to get the lottery under way. But the ownership of the company will be split in three, with a third stake offered to institutional investors who will be approached by Games for Good Causes's financial advisers, the merchant bankers Kleinwort Benson. NCT will provide the technological expertise.

The consortium's chief executive will be Malcolm Hughes, managing director of Vernons for four years. Vernons, which has about 21 per cent of the pounds 1bn-a-year football pools market - 75 per cent of which is taken by rival Littlewoods - lobbied vigorously against the introduction of the National Lottery, claiming it would damage pools profits and lead to job losses.

But Mr Hughes said the pools campaign had been intended to ensure that the lottery and the pools could compete on equal terms. There would be no conflict of interest if the consortium won the licence to run the lottery, he insisted.

Games for Good Causes would be run 'totally independently' of Vernons to ensure fair competition between the two.

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