Euromillions fails to hit the jackpot for Camelot

The game intended to lift sales is bringing in only £100m a year as takings fall short
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The Independent Online

The Euromillions lottery game, launched by Camelot last year amid predictions of £50m jackpots, has fallen far short of the company's ambitious expectations.

The Euromillions lottery game, launched by Camelot last year amid predictions of £50m jackpots, has fallen far short of the company's ambitious expectations.

The latest figures show that sales of Euromillions lottery tickets are averaging only about £2m a week - making it just the fifth-largest game in Camelot's seven-strong portfolio.

An internal company document from March 2003, seen by The Independent on Sunday, suggests the lottery operator had originally believed the game could make up 20 per cent of its £4.5bn-a-year turnover.

Instead, it is worth only about £100m a year - just over a 10th of that target and far behind the main Lotto game, which makes £60m a week, and scratchcards, which earn £14.6m a week.

Euromillions was unveiled at the Tower of London last February by the England rugby player Lawrence Dallaglio and the supermodel Jodie Kidd as one of the most lucrative and ambitious lottery games ever launched. Now played in nine European countries, it reaches around 200 million people and has been a huge hit in France, Spain and Ireland.

Euromillions is designed to produce a series of rollovers which build up to £20m or £30m jackpots every few weeks. But only one British player has ever won the jackpot - Marion Richardson, from Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, who scooped £16.7m last April.

In public, Camelot insists that Euromillions has been a success, and claims ticket sales have grown by a fifth in recent months. It denies ever predicting that the game would make up 20 per cent of sales. However, company executives admit privately that Euromillions has been a much bigger hit on the Continent, partly because jackpots for traditional lotteries in France and Spain are lower than that of the main British weekly draw, Lotto.

Sales in France were roughly five times higher than in the UK last year, at €587m (£405m). In France and Spain, whose national lotteries co-founded the game with Camelot, there have been 13 winners, enjoying payouts as high as €33m.

Euromillions was launched as the centrepiece of Camelot's attempts to counter the steep slide in sales that occurred in the late 1990s. Lottery experts believe the game's poor performance has put Camelot's plans to raise more than £10.6bn for good causes by 2009 in serious doubt.

A Camelot spokeswoman said: "We are extremely pleased with the performance of Euro- millions - in particular that the vast majority of its sales are incremental. Its sales have contributed to the National Lottery's longest period of growth since 1997, with most recent half-yearly results showing sales up 4.7 per cent on the previous financial year."

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