India's leading lottery firm to take on Camelot

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The Independent Online

India's leading lottery company is set to challenge Camelot to run Britain's national lottery.

Sugal & Damani, a privately-owned conglomerate, made its interest known to Britain's National Lottery Commission (NLC) last week. Sugalchand Jain, the chairman of the group, said: "We are in the process of finalising our bid. We have more than 35 years of continuous operation of government lotteries in various states of India. Being in the business for more than three decades, Sugal & Damani developed thorough expertise at all levels, be it technology, operations or financial strength."

The current operator Camelot and Australia's Tattersall's have confirmed they are in the race for the licence, which will begin in 2009 and last for 10 years.

A spokeswoman for the NLC said: "We welcome Sugal and Damani's interest in the competition for the next licence - the National Lottery Commission has worked hard to create a level playing field for the competition, and the interest from around the world shows we have achieved this."

Sugal & Damani has businesses ranging from tourism to financial services, and has run lotteries for more than three decades, including for Indian state governments such as Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Manipur. The Indian group has admitted it lacks local knowledge in Britain and it will be looking for UK partners.

Kamlesh Vijay, the chief executive of Sugal & Damani's lottery bid, said he would come to the UK with colleagues next month to "fine-tune" details. "We are talking to prominent companies in the UK, but it would not be appropriate for me to give names at this stage," he said.

In January, the NLC urged potential bidders to come forward to discuss the most effective way of competing for the next licence. Bids need to be in by December and the preferred bidder will be announced next spring. The UK lottery has raised £18.5bn for good causes and given £26bn in prizes.

Last week, Sir Richard Branson, who has tried and failed to win the lottery licence twice before, announced he would not be bidding for the third licence. The head of Virgin Group is thought to have consulted for months with advisers before deciding not to launch a bid again for his not-for-profit proposal, called the People's Lottery.

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