Nov 12, 2017

Richard Desmond gears up for National Lottery battle

The billionaire mogul Richard Desmond is stepping up plans to bid for the National Lottery as he moves beyond his media career to launch a rare challenge for control over the game played by millions of Britons each week. Mr Desmond has grown frustrated that the British government has not acceded to his demands for a "Modest deregulation" that would allow competitors to the National Lottery to offer jackpots of £1m. The Health Lottery typically pays out a maximum prize of tens of thousands of pounds. Camelot, the monopoly owned by Canada's Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan that has operated the National Lottery since its inception in 1994, is sceptical of Mr Desmond's motives, believing his primary objective is to increase pressure on the government to secure more favourable terms for his existing lottery business. The Health Lottery gives more than 20 per cent of its proceeds to charity, about the minimum required by law, compared with 28 per cent of National Lottery sales. Asked how long Mr Desmond was willing to stomach the losses racked up by the Health Lottery, Paul Ashford, Northern and Shell's group editorial director, said: "It depends on how generous Richard wishes to continue to be . . . we need, as Paul McCartney once sung, a little help from our friends."

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