Sazka Group Considering Bid for UK National Lottery

  • National Lottery has been operated by Camelot since its launch in 1994
  • Lucrative operating license could change hands in 2023
  • Sazka Group could face competition from Sir Richard Branson and Tabcorp
National Lottery sign
Czech tycoon Karel Komarek’s Sazka Group has shown an interest in securing the operating license for the UK’s National Lottery. [Image:]

Currently under discussion

Czech-owned Sazka Group, known for its successful lottery franchises across Europe, is reportedly interested in taking on the UK National Lottery when the operating license renews.

raking in more than £14bn ($18.1bn) in bets across its lottery and sports betting outlets in 2018

The current franchise is receiving attention due its attractive proposition, raking in more than £14bn ($18.1bn) in bets across its lottery and sports betting outlets in 2018. The lottery is currently operated by Canada-based Camelot, the same company that has held the license since its launch in 1994.

Other interested parties

With the license up for renew in 2023, Sazka group isn’t the only interested party. Potential lines of enquiry have come from Sir Richard Branson, who founded Virgin, and Northern & Shell owner Richard Desmond.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has now appointed investment bank Rothschild & Co to put together a package from serious interested bidders for them to review. The official start of the process is due to be announced shortly.

Sazka has a proven track record

When it comes to Sazka Group, they do have a previous track record of operating lottery franchises in countries such as Italy, Greece, Austria, and the Czech Republic. The European gambling company also operates the popular Health Lottery in the UK.

Their website describes the company as “the continent’s largest and most successful lottery operator.” They are part of the KKCG investment portfolio established by Czech Karel Komarak who made his fortune in oil and gas.

A spokesperson for the group said: “Sazka Group is aware of the upcoming license competition for the UK National Lottery. Once the Gambling Commission has announced the terms and conditions for bids, we will evaluate them to determine the Sazka Group response.”

Camelot may still come out fighting

The UK National Lottery franchise is currently held by Canadian brand Camelot who has won the last three terms of license bids.

National Lottery CEO Nigel Railton helped the company launch a strategic review in 2017 that focused on re-energising the brand. Since then, the company has seen increasing sales of lottery tickets and scratch cards as around 80 million players spent more than £14bn ($18.1bn) in 2018.

Around £865m ($1.118bn) was raised as lottery duty last year for the government. Camelot is currently owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

around 80 million National Lottery players spent more than £14bn ($18.1bn) in 2018

It has previously held off bids from the likes of Sir Richard Branson, but it seems that there is more competition on the cards for this latest round.

Australian giant Tabcorp has also shown signs of putting its hat into the lottery franchise ring. It is currently the largest lottery company in Australia and former co-owner of Sun Bets, currently valued at £5bn ($6.53bn) on the stock market.

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