'The mood was glum, very glum.' For 800 workers, their number was up

Camelot HQ
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The Independent Online

At lunchtime yesterday the 800 Camelot workers listened in silence to the news that, bar any dramatic turn of events, they would all lose their jobs in September next year.

At lunchtime yesterday the 800 Camelot workers listened in silence to the news that, bar any dramatic turn of events, they would all lose their jobs in September next year.

The chief executive, Tim Holley, made the announcement at the company's headquarters in an industrial estate in Watford. One young executive said: "People are very upset in there. We will just have to hope for the best."

His fate, along with those of his colleagues, rests with Camelot's shareholders. Yesterday they were setting up meetings in which they would decide whether the company, set up specifically to run the lottery, could be saved.

But the general feeling was that it would take some feat of corporate wizardry to keep Camelot in business. "People are incredibly disappointed, very depressed and really stunned. The mood is very, very glum," said one woman emerging from the headquarters yesterday.

After riding the scandal and public-relations disasters of the past six years, few workers had believed they could lose the licence. Many workers were puzzled by the criticism of GTech. "If GTech are so terrible then the lottery should have been suspended straight away. They are allowing them to continue until someone else comes along. They want to have their cake and eat it," one said.

Andrew Newton, head of player and retail services, looked subdued as he walked back to his office, having chaired a question-and-answer session among staff. He admitted that some had been reduced to tears. "We have worked extremely hard and diligently for seven years. We have an extremely good and clean track record," he said.

Then, with a surge of bravado which contrasted sharply with the events of the day, he said: "It is business as usual. We have a roll-over tonight. Everybody is upbeat. It is work as normal, supporting our retailers and players."

Claire Ward, MP for Watford and member of the parliamentary Culture, Media and Sports select committee, said: "Both GTech and Camelot are based in my constituency, employing hundreds of people and I am sure they will share this sense of astonishment and disappointment at the statement from the Lottery Commission today.

"I am astonished that the commission should decide to allow The People's Lottery the opportunity to clarify areas of serious concern to the commission but not give the same opportunity to the current licence-holders, Camelot."

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