Outgoing lottery company Camelot sees signs of cost of living crisis hitting sales

Outgoing UK National Lottery operator Camelot has revealed a drop in ticket and instant game sales as it flags signs players have been ‘tightening their belts’ over the soaring cost of the game life.

Camelot, which recently took legal action against the Gambling Commission after losing the lottery’s next license to compete with Allwyn, saw sales fall by 3% or £283.2m to £8.1bn. pounds sterling in the year ending March 31.

He said most of the drop was due to a 7% drop in National Lottery snapshot sales – down from £240million to £3.4billion.

The group partly attributed the fall to the end of Covid restrictions, which it said meant there was “greater competition for people’s attention and spending”.

But he also revealed that “growing economic uncertainty” has dampened instant sales as consumers come under pressure from rising costs, while scratch card sales have remained below pre-pandemic levels.

Sales at the 44,500 retailers carrying National Lottery products fell 4% to £4.7million over the year.

He blamed pandemic restrictions earlier in the year, but more recently the cost of living crisis, which he said had slowed the retail recovery as “consumers tightened their belts”.

Retailers still account for nearly 60% of all group sales, he added.

The group said raffle-based games fared better, although ticket sales were still down from £43.2m to £4.6bn, with fewer major rollovers of the EuroMillions.

There have been 15 jackpot draws of over £100m in 2021/22 compared to 22 the previous year, he said.

Camelot added that the end of Covid restrictions saw online sales fall from £93million to £3.4billion, although he added that this was also due to the introduction of limits on weaker online gambling and wallets for potentially risky gamblers.

He said £1.9billion was generated for good causes during the year – an increase of £24.3million on last year and the equivalent of £36million. pounds each week, making it the second highest total raised.

Camelot chief executive Nigel Railton said: “To achieve National Lottery sales of over £8billion two years in a row while maintaining very high levels of audience participation – despite the challenging external environment and changing – proves that our strategy of providing great choice to consumers in a safe and convenient way continues to be hugely successful.

“In the coming year, we will continue to invest and innovate to respond to the changing consumer environment,” he said.

In March, Camelot lost the license to operate the lottery from 2024 after 30 years of operating the game.

The five-year license has been awarded to Allwyn, formerly known as Sazka, which runs lotteries in Austria, Italy and Greece, and is offering to cut the cost of tickets in the UK from £2 to £1 .

But Camelot launched legal proceedings a month later to challenge the decision.

Questions have also been raised about Allwyn’s sister company’s ties to Russian gas giant Gazprom.

Labor MPs asked the government what checks had been made to ensure it had no financial or political ties to Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Allwyn’s sister company MND runs a gas storage business with Gazprom in the Czech Republic, but is exploring ways to end the Russian company’s involvement.

Laura J. Boyer