Sir Richard Branson Withdraws Bid for National Lottery

  • British billionaire Sir Richard Branson had entered a bid to run the UK's National Lottery
  • License is set to expire in 2023, bidding process has begun
  • Withdrew his bid to focus on current business interests affected by the coronavirus pandemic
Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson has withdrawn his bid for the next National Lottery license to focus on supporting his current business interests. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Hoped it would be third time lucky

Billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson has withdrawn his bid for the UK’s National Lottery license, meaning the bidding pool has just gotten smaller.

the decision has been taken to walk away

It was the third time the entrepreneur attempted to secure the contract, but with Virgin Atlantic under significant pressure from a lack of travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, the decision has been taken to walk away.

License set to expire

Since the National Lottery was launched 25 years ago, the license has been in the hands of Camelot, owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

The current license is set to expire in 2023. Therefore, the UK Gambling Commission is currently asking for bids from companies interested in operating the lottery under the new license. While details are yet to be finalized, it’s thought it would run for at least seven or 10 years.

Current interested parties include the Czech lottery group Sazka, Health Lottery founder Richard Desmond, who runs the Health Lottery, and Rothschild.

The National Lottery is the sixth-largest in the world. It generates around £30m ($37m) each week for charity-funded projects.

Looking to secure additional funding

A source told The Times that Branson is instead turning his attention to trying to keep his airline in the sky, possibly by securing external funding.

Branson is instead turning his attention to trying to keep his airline in the sky

The country’s seventh-richest person has already asked the UK government for a bailout loan of £500m ($625m), which was refused. In a blog post, Branson promised to pledge Necker Island, his tax-free home in the British Virgin Islands, to raise money against the island to secure the loan.

He said: “We will do everything we can to keep the airline going – but we will need government support to achieve that in the face of the severe uncertainty surrounding travel today and not knowing how long the planes will be grounded for.”

Branson almost won the lottery license back in 2000, but a High Court decision to disqualify Camelot was overturned. He currently owns the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.