Camelot sales hit record £3.5bn

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Britons bet a record £3.5bn on the National Lottery in the six months to 19 September, 8 per cent more than the same time last year.

Ticket sales were up 3.4 per cent at £2.4bn, while £999m was spent on scratchcards, up from £816.8m in the same six months of 2011.

The operator, Camelot, which was sold to a Canadian teachers' pension fund for £400m in 2010, raised £750m for the London Olympics and Paralympics from sales of its special lottery games and gave a record £953m, up 4 per cent on last year, to good causes during the six months. It also paid out £1.9bn in prize money.

Camelot has been at war with Richard Desmond's rival Health Lottery. The National Lottery operator wants the Government to stop the Health Lottery from using a series of local licences to operate nationally. This summer it lost a High Court attempt to get its rival gamblingh licence revoked.