Neil Brocklehurst, Commercial Director, Camelot
The world we live in now isn’t the same one we were living in only a few months ago. Everyday life, including our working lives, has changed drastically – and I don’t think there’s any one person that COVID-19 hasn’t affected. The implications of the global pandemic, and ensuing lockdowns, have thrown up many new challenges for businesses – and that hasn’t been any different for us at Camelot. We’ve had to move quickly and adapt to an ever-changing situation, while continuing to meet our licence and integrity obligations.
From the outset, we’ve been implementing a range of measures – for example our entire Contact Centre can now work from home – enabling us to continue running the UK National Lottery as safely and responsibly as we can because we know the importance of the work it does in raising £30 million every week for Good Causes in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This is even more important as National Lottery distributors continue to fund vital work in communities – and these funds are now more essential than ever. For instance, last month it was announced that up to £600 million of National Lottery funding is being directed towards charities and organisations around the UK to help tackle the impact of coronavirus.
Obviously, our number one concern throughout all of this has been our employees – and making sure they’re safe, well and set up to do their jobs as best as they can in this new world. In addition to this, getting our response right in retail has been important for a number of reasons – primary to this being that our 44,000 retailers are the backbone to The National Lottery. In our latest financial results, they accounted for around 70% of total sales. They are therefore vital for raising money for Good Causes and are also a primary interface with the majority of National Lottery players.
We’ve remained in constant communication with our retailers throughout the crisis using a range of channels to provide them with timely updates and important information. For example, we’ve been offering details about safe ways to play The National Lottery in retail, including information about how to minimize risk by encouraging players to buy a Lucky Dip ticket – as this means they don’t need to use a pen to fill in their selection and it cuts down on contact – as well as paying prizes on to debit cards where this is possible.
We’ve also been encouraging players to only buy tickets in retail when they’re already in a store to buy essentials – to buy and check tickets online instead. We’re also reminding people who have winning retail tickets that they have 180 days (around six months) from the date of the draw to claim a prize, so not to make a special trip out to a store to claim a prize – they have plenty of time.
While it's too early to say what the overall effect will be on National Lottery sales over the medium to longer term, what's clear right now is that there has definitely been a change in the way some people are playing during this period. Due to the fact that we've been encouraging people to play and check their tickets online and on the National Lottery app, we've seen a significant increase in people downloading our app and traffic to our online channels.
What’s impressed me most during this unprecedented situation is how well the various teams at Camelot have worked together under such difficult circumstances – especially as they’ve been under pressure to deliver quickly, particularly in the initial weeks when it was all beginning to unfold and we had to adapt to a drastically-changing environment.
Take our Marketing team, for example. They have been fantastic in turning advertising around in short periods of time, such as updating ads to carry the ‘Play online or via the app’ messaging for upcoming draws or jackpots – to cut down on the number of people going into stores during lockdown. And they very quickly created new advertising to support the £300 million National Lottery Community Fund COVID-19 support package – which is part of the £600 million I mentioned earlier. This particular ad uses user-generated video content from a wide range of beneficiaries across the UK thanking National Lottery players for their enormous contribution during this difficult time.
Obviously, we’ve been following government advice, which has meant the majority of our employees have also been working remotely from home, but you wouldn’t guess that from the co-ordinated output that is being generated. The work that everyone at Camelot has been doing under such trying conditions has been genuinely outstanding.
During this time, I’d like to take this opportunity to send our best wishes to everyone involved in the lottery industry around the world. I hope that you, your colleagues, and your friends and family stay safe and well – as we continue to collectively navigate this uncharted territory.