Camelot reaches for the Sky in lottery bid

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The Independent Online

The National Lottery operator Camelot extended partnerships with Sky and Microsoft yesterday as it put the finishing touches to its bid for the third lottery licence.

Final bids for the new 10-year licence, which will commence in 2009, are due in today and Camelot is facing serious competition from Sugal & Damani (S&D), Indian's biggest lottery operator, which lodged an interest with the National Lottery Commission last year. Intralot, a Greek company, is also expected to throw its hat in the ring today.

Camelot said its deal with Sky would lead to "a dramatic expansion of the lottery's presence on Sky's digital platforms", if its bid were successful. Currently Sky customers can play the National Lottery via interactive television but under the new plans all Lottery products would be available across all of Sky's platforms, including broadband and mobile phones.

Sky's chief executive James Murdoch said that by integrating services across Sky, "we hope to drive more value and fun into the whole lottery experience".

Meanwhile, Camelot's deal with Microsoft extends its presence into the company's social networking and blogging site Windows Live Spaces. It is currently available on MSN Hotmail.

Dianne Thompson, Camelot's chief executive, said the company's bid for the new licence was all about "innovation, increased convenience and social responsibility".

To date, more than £19bn has been raised for good causes by the National Lottery. Camelot claims to run one of the most cost-efficient lotteries in the world, with around 5 per cent of total revenue taken in operating costs.

Camelot has been working on its bid with a dedicated team since January 2005. The successful bid is due to be announced this summer. The UK operator's most serious threat is S&D, a privately owned conglomerate with interests from stockbroking to jewellery shops. S&D is understood to be in talks with British partners. It has been operating lotteries since 1983. The three provinces in which it runs lotteries have a combined population of 200 million.