Camelot, the outgoing UK national lottery operator, has said players have “tightened their belts” in the face of soaring living costs, as it reported lower sales of tickets and instant win games.
The company, which has launched legal action against the Gambling Commission after losing the lottery’s next licence to the Czech-owned newcomer Allwyn, posted a 3% drop in sales to £8.1bn in the year to 31 March. It said most of that fall was caused by a 7% decline in sales of National Lottery Instants to £3.4bn.
“This was largely down to greater competition for people’s attention and spend after the lifting of Covid restrictions, followed by growing economic uncertainty over the latter part of the year,” Camelot said.
Scratchcard sales remained below pre-pandemic levels. Sales across the 44,500 retailers offering national lottery products fell 4% to £4.7m over the year. Retailers account for nearly 60% of all sales for the group.
Camelot blamed pandemic restrictions in the early part of the year that affected footfall and shopper frequency, but more recently the cost of living crisis, which it said had slowed down the retail recovery as “consumers tightened their belts”.
Draw-based games fared better, although ticket sales dipped slightly to £4.6bn, with fewer large EuroMillions rollovers. There were 15 draws with a jackpot of more than £100m, compared with 22 the previous year.
With Covid restrictions ending, online sales fell by 2.6% to £3.4bn,partly due to the introduction of lower online play and wallet limits for potentially at-risk players.
Camelot said £1.9bn was generated for good causes over the year, the second highest total raised.
The Camelot chief executive, Nigel Railton, said over the next year the company would “continue to invest and innovate to respond to the changing consumer environment”.
He added: “Camelot has once again raised a record amount for good causes from ticket sales, and has also ensured that a record-equalling £3.1bn was once again generated for society through good causes, lottery duty and retailer commission, at a time when other funding sources are being squeezed.”
In March, Camelot lost the licence to operate the lottery from 2024, after 30 years running the game. The 10-year licence was awarded to Allwyn, which runs lotteries in Austria, Italy and Greece. It has pledged to cut the cost of UK tickets. Its parent company is the Sazka Group, a conglomerate owned by the Czech billionaire Karel Komárek.
Camelot and the media tycoon Richard Desmond, who also lost out in the competition for the lucrative licence, launched a legal challenge and are taking their case to the high court in October.