The Player: Tim Holley, Ceo Of Camelot: Keeping the balls rolling

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The Independent Online
PERSONAL DETAILS: Aged 59. Lives in London. Drives a Jaguar. Paid pounds 636,000 in 1998 on a salary of pounds 284,000 and a performance payment of pounds 126,000. The bonus is related to profits and money raised for good causes. His hobbies include golf, skiing and riding.

CHALLENGE: "To maintain player interest," says Mr Holley, adding that Camelot set out to create a national institution, but surprised everyone in the industry by the success of the launch. He sees the pounds 10bn target for money raised for good causes as crucial. He believes there is a perception that running a lottery is easy and everyone will buy a lottery ticket for ever. But he knows brand image must be nurtured.

Player participation is off the peak levels at the launch and at the time of the first double rollover 18 months ago, but two-thirds of the UK's adults play regularly. "We have to make sure we protect and promote the National Lottery in an ever-changing and challenging gaming market," says Mr Holley.

He notes the emergence of Internet lotteries and deregulation in other parts of UK gaming to help mitigate the effects of the lottery, which swallows 15 per cent of our gaming market turnover. There is the possibility of overseas competition, but Mr Holley thinks if lottery operators could sell tickets across European boundaries, UK prize money would have to rise by 10 per cent, but money raised for good causes would shrink.

He cites other challenges, including meeting Camelot's 2,000 licence obligations, motivating staff and maintaining efficiency when they know they may not have a job when the licence expires in September 2001. Camelot will be told by June 2000 whether the licence has been renewed. "We have got to prove we are the right people to do it," he says.

CORPORATE BACKGROUND: Mr Holley joined Camelot in 1993, having been in the electronics group Racal for 13 years and the computer software group ICL for 19 years.

STRATEGY: "To introduce gradually new games to maintain player interest and money going to good causes," he says. "It's a judgement call to be made as you go along," says Mr Holley. The midweek draw was introduced later than originally planned.

Interest, innovation and excitement are vital for a new game and they do not necessarily reduce interest in existing games. Thunderball, an online game, was successfully launched three months ago, taking pounds 5m per week. It is played on Saturdays with a top prize of pounds 250,000, and has led to a slight increase in the overall player numbers for Camelot games.

The National Lotteries Commission has to be convinced about the desirability of a new game. Mr Holley says Camelot "probably has one of the toughest regulatory regimes of any lottery in the world". He would welcome greater commercial freedom. Camelot's bid for the next licence to run the National Lottery will include proposals for new games.

Mr Holley thinks there is scope to increase player participation rates for Instants, given that the number of regular players is less than 10 per cent. Camelot is also considering selling tickets on the Internet but Mr Holley is worried about how to bar under-16s from buying tickets.

Camelot is also exporting its expertise as a lottery operator. It is a shareholder in the company that recently won the licence to run the South African lottery.

MANAGEMENT STYLE: "Straightforward, I tend to delegate," says Mr Holley. "It is a friendly and open company." Everyone calls him by his first name and there is little hierarchy. But Mr Holley expects people to deliver and take responsibility for it. He says there is a company culture of wanting to be the best.

MOST ADMIRES IN BUSINESS: BT, who Mr Holley says did "a great job" helping Camelot set up the lottery. "It is an organisation that has moved on enormously over the years," he adds.

CITY VERDICT: Independent research in La Fleur's Lottery World showed that in 1998-99 Camelot retained the top efficiency slot for world national lotteries, and stayed the largest, both for the fourth consecutive year.

Terri La Fleur says: "Camelot is succeeding at its task in maximising returns to Good Causes." In 1998-99 Camelot returned 44.5 per cent of total revenues to the government and good causes, a percentage matched only by the Brazilian lottery.

Ms Fleur says the study shows "the privatised lottery, as a government- mandated way to operate a national one, is successful".

Nicola Reeves