Daily Express Owner Said to be Planning Lotto Takeover

Richard Desmond, billionaire owner of the Daily and Sunday Express is planning to bid for the rights of the National Lottery if the Financial Times is to be believed. Desmond already runs the rival Health Lottery, and several media titles. Martin Ellice, the joint managing director of Demond’s company Northern and Shell is said to have told the FT that they intend to go for the licence when it comes up for renewal in 2019.

Right now Camelot is run by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and they hold the rights to run the National Lottery and associated enterprises until 2023. They haven’t made the best run of it, and particularly in recent times there has been much furore about rule changes and falling profits.

This means that the lottery could be perfect for a new tender. In the past other wealthy entrepreneurs have shown interest in the National Lottery. When the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan took over it was thought that Richard Branson and Virgin may take over the lottery, but they were pipped to the post by the current tenders.

Desmond has run the Health Lottery since it launched and despite a 2012 High Court Bid to have the licensed revoked, it’s continued to run at a profit for Northern and Shell. It’s understandable that Desmond may want to capitalise on his lottery experience, and now we’ll just have to watch what happens when the license comes up for renewal in 2019.

Given the bad press the Lotto and Camelot have received this year, players do seem to feel it’s time for a change, and so this could be a breathe of fresh air for the 22-year-old National Lottery draw.

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