The operator of the UK National Lottery, Camelot, has announced the second-best sales figures in its entire almost 30-year history after it registered an increase in the number of older people playing online.
The UK Lottery operator revealed that in the six months to the end of September 2020 its sales fell by 1.7% from the record half-year revenue generated by the company in 2019, reaching £3.95 billion. Camelot actually did great on that, despite an 18% sales decline registered over the first two weeks of the national lockdown in the spring of 2020, when many retail shops were shut and customers were forced to stay at home and look for other alternative ways for gambling.
The chief executive officer of the company, Nigel Railton, explained that the robust result had been driven by some strategic marketing campaigns of Camelot aimed at attracting more players over the age of 45 to become more digitalised and start playing online. As Mr Railton revealed, the company even helped the ones who had not known how to use the Internet to set up email accounts in order to make it easier for them in order to sign in.
The abovementioned process had involved making an investment of about £8 million, with the money being largely spent on digital products and recruiting more staff to help customers, especially the elderly ones, how to play online. As a matter of fact, during that time, Camelot hired 90 people that represent 12% of the company’s workforce from before the coronavirus pandemic.
Camelot Group Makes the Largest Financial Contributions to Covid-19 Support Scheme
As revealed by the National Lottery operator, the sales had also been boosted by more aggressive advertising around the Covid-19 relief fund of the National Lottery, with £800 million being distributed so far to good causes in order to help people in self-isolation. This has made the company the one with the largest financial contributions to the coronavirus support schemes apart from the UK Government.
The company’s marketing spending was boosted from the £23.6 million over the first six months of fiscal 2019 to £27.2 million over the same period in 2020. Its profits were estimated at about 1% of its total revenue.
The results came at a very important time for Camelot, as the decision-making process for the fourth licence term of the National Lottery started in October. Camelot Group, which has run the UK National Lottery since its inception in 1994, has been criticised by some Members of Parliament for making profits a priority over returns to good causes. The gambling regulatory body of the country, the UKGC, has also fined the company for governance failures.
Earlier during the Covid-19 crisis, the UK Gambling Commission issued guidance to make operators implement stricter rules associated with advertising and source of funds checks in order to make sure gambling companies do not take advantage of customers’ vulnerability and compulsive gambling behaviour during the lockdown period. Still, according to the long-time anti-gambling campaigner Matt Zarb-Cousin, the prevalence of addiction to National Lottery services was low. However, Mr Zarb-Cousin warned that Camelot UK had used some customers’ transition to online gambling to start offering rapid instant win games, which could also be accessed by children.