BT has joined the race to win the UK’s lucrative national lottery contract after partnering with Italian gaming group Sisal and children’s charity Barnardo’s.
The telecommunications group said it was Sisal’s “preferred supplier” for communications technology and would advise the company on how to “broaden the appeal of the national lottery” and “improve online player experience ”.
The current UK lottery license, operated by Canadian company Camelot, will expire in 2023, attracting fierce competition for one of the most profitable private commercial contracts awarded by the government.
From the year to the end of 2020, Camelot, which has managed the lottery through three licenses since its inception in 1994, generated sales of £ 7.9bn and pre-tax profits of £ 95m.
Sisal, which belongs to private equity group CVC Capital Partners and runs lotteries in Italy, Turkey and Morocco, is a late entrant in the competition after delaying the announcement of its plans to strengthen its partnership with Barnardo’s.
Although he only announced the offer in April, chief executive Francesco Durante told the Financial Times that the offer has been part of the group’s three-year development plan since taking office in December 2019.
BT would manage Sisal’s UK operations and infrastructure, he added, while Barnardo’s will advise on maximizing funds for good causes.
The UK gaming regulator is due to announce the winner of the 10-year contract in the fall. Many in the industry believe that the bidding war for the fourth license could be the most competitive yet.
Other participants include Indian lottery operator Sugal & Damani, media mogul Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell, Camelot and Czech gambling group Sazka, which Sisal has beaten in two previous lottery tenders. .
Richard Branson, billionaire founder of Virgin Group, has abandoned the process to focus on financing his businesses during the pandemic.
Durante said he believed digital development would be the “main engine of growth” for the national lottery, as well as the expansion of the jackpot, which for the main “lotto game” ranged from around $ 2 million to $ 20 million. books this year.
But, he added, he would also like to see the National Lottery draws on TV as they were until 2016 and that BT would help innovate in the retail experience.
“You have to focus on a customer-centric approach to make sure the experience is exceptional whether they buy the ticket in a store or online. The gap between these two is narrowing more and more, ”he said.
He added that Sisal’s digital business had cushioned it from financial losses during the pandemic. In 2020, its revenue fell by 9%, while the overall revenue of the gaming industry in Italy fell by 27%.