Lotterylooks to go online

CAMELOT, the National Lottery operator, is set to acquire an internet gambling business in its ongoing attempts to broaden the game's appeal.

Sportingbet.com, the Ofex-listed bookmaker, is thought to be among the operations being looked at by Camelot. The consortium, which consists of Cadbury Schweppes, De La Rue, ICL and Racal, is eager to tap into the recent boom in internet betting.

It is part of Camelot's eagerness to find new outlets for its products as the race to be the next lottery operator hots up. Camelot is under pressure from the National Lottery Commission, its regulator, to increase its sales to ensure that its charitable donations are maintained.

Concern that the lottery is losing its appeal was highlighted last week when Camelot announced a 40 per cent fall in profits for the first half of this year from pounds 34m to pounds 20.2m. Camelot's contributions to charity for the period fell from pounds 696.3m to pounds 633.5m.

Much of the fall was blamed on the decline in popularity of Instants, its scratch cards game. Camelot has already acted to offset this shortfall with the introduction of the Thunderball weekly draw and the launch of Big Draw 2000, its one-off lottery for millennium weekend.

Critics argue that the new draws and the planned internet investment are motivated by Camelot's eagerness to head off accusations of profiteering by reducing its bottom line until the new licence is awarded.

Although Littlewoods, a widely mooted bidder, has dropped out, Richard Branson's Virgin Group is likely to provide stiff competition to Camelot's hopes of retaining the licence. Virgin is looking for support for its bid from AWI and Essnet, the two lottery equipment providers which are the main rivals of GTech, whose technology is used by Camelot. However, Virgin has yet to make a final decision.

Virgin is thought to be unhappy with the conditions of the licence renewal announced by the National Lottery Commission. Rival bidders are understood to be concerned that the handover period, should Camelot lose, is too short to allow them to make a smooth start. As well as Littlewoods, several other anticipated bidders have failed to come forward - notably Rank and Ladbroke, the hotel and bookmaking group. Camelot chairman Sir George Russell has formed an alliance with the Post Office to boost its latest bid.

Camelot's donations to charity are on track to exceed the pounds 9bn demanded by the time its seven-year contract runs out.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower