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Britons bet on lottery to save the day

Camelot, the UK National Lottery operator, has celebrated record sales at a time when the revenues of most lotteries globally are static or declining.

The performance of the operator, which runs five weekly lotteries, was boosted by the launch of a refreshed Thunderball game and the new Lotto Plus 5 game, as well as two special UK Millionaire Super Raffles.

Its success suggests people are increasingly clinging to the eternal hope of winning a fortune in austerity Britain. The record sales follow comments by the supermarket chain Asda in February that sales of "scratch cards" had jumped by 6 per cent to a level last seen in September 2008 when Lehman Brothers collapsed.

Camelot said it had seen National Lottery sales rise by 20 per cent since 2002 when it was handed its second lottery licence. It pointed out that 70 per cent of the UK adult population played the lottery and spent on average just £3 a week. This means that despite it being the world's seventh largest lottery, the UK National Lottery ranks just 60th in terms of spend per capita.

For the year to 31 March, Camelot saw National Lottery sales across all channels rise by 6.8 per cent to a record £5.82bn.

Dianne Thompson, the chief executive of Camelot, said: "Our business is all about raising as much money as possible for the Good Causes and creating millions of winners – and this year's figures clearly show that we're doing just that. Most importantly, we're continuing to do it in a socially responsible way by encouraging many people to play but to spend relatively small amounts."

She added: "Our continued success in the face of a challenging economic climate and a worldwide trend of slowing lottery sales has reinforced our position as one of the world's leading lottery operators."

Lucky players won total prize money of £2.88bn and the group lifted the amount it gives to good causes by 7.5 per cent to £1.67bn.