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UK National Lottery sales reach record £3.96bn in H1

| By Robert Fletcher
Camelot UK Lotteries saw ticket sales reach an all-time high of £3.96bn (€4.72bn/$5.31bn) in the first half of the UK National Lottery operator’s 2021-22 financial year.

Total sales for the six months from 1 April to 25 September were 2.7%, or £107.3m, higher than in the corresponding period last year. The operator credited this growth to a record digital performance and innovations that raised interest in its draw-based games, as well as a strong brand presence around UK coverage of the Tokyo Olympics.

Draw-based games accounted for the bulk of Camelot’s sales in H1, rising 3.6% to £2.23bn, aided by year-on-year growth across all products in the portfolio.

Despite fewer rollovers for the EuroMillions, there were a number of ‘must be won’ draws for Lotto, which activated Camelot’s ‘rolldown’ feature. This sees a jackpot shared among all prize winners, if it is not won in a certain period, resulting in higher payouts for all winning players. 

Turning to National Lottery scratchcards and online instant win games, sales were up 1.6% to £1.73bn for the half. Camelot put this down to a strong retail as novel coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions in the UK were eased.

As such, in-store scratchcard sales were up 6.7% year-on-year while sales of online instant win games were down 8.8%. However, Camelot also noted that scratchcard sales remain down on pre-pandemic levels as shopping habits continue to evolve

Expanding on this, Camelot said total retail sales across all products for the period reached £2.34bn, an increase of 4.5% on last year, and consolidating the channel’s position as the National Lottery’s largest. Retailer commission increased 5.1% to £133.0m over the period.

Camelot works with approximately 44,000 retailers across the UK, and expanded its network further in H1 by forging new partnerships with supermarkets Aldi and Iceland. These two partnerships meant National Lottery draw-based games were made available at checkouts in approximately 1,900 stores across the UK.

Digital sales, meanwhile, reached a record £1.62bn. This represented a year-on-year increase of just 0.2%, though this followed a particularly strong first half for digital in 2020, when sales were up 39.1% as a result of Covid-19 shuttering retail outlets and players shifting online.

Mobile sales were up 1.8% to an all-time high of £1.15bn, which Camelot said reflected a wider trend of an increasing shift to shopping via smartphones. This growth was aided by over 795,000 new online registrations.

The National Lottery awarded £2.27bn in prize money to players during the half, up £30.6m on last year, and created 184 new millionaires in the process. Approximately 1% of sales were retained as profit by Camelot under the terms of its licence, while 4% was spent on operating costs during the period. The vast majority of money left after prizes and operating expenses was allocated to good causes, with the six month contribution of £884.5m representing a 2.4% increase in the prior year.

Returns to Good Causes since the National Lottery’s launch in 1994 have now exceeded £45.0bn.

“With National Lottery sales up across the board and very high levels of public participation, we’ve once again proved that our strategy of offering great consumer choice in a safe and convenient way continues to deliver vital contributions to Good Causes across the UK,” Camelot chief executive Nigel Railton commented.

“Lotto is a great barometer for the overall health of the National Lottery so I’m really proud that, as a result of the series of Lotto enhancements we’ve made, we continue to be one of the only major operators in the world to be growing sales of our flagship game.”

Railton added that Camelot’s summer-long campaign, which highlighted the contribution of National Lottery players to funding Olympians’ and Paralympians’ training, was a key driver of engagement. This included two homecoming events at Wembley Arena for those involved in the Tokyo Games.

Camelot chair Sir Hugh Robertson pointed out that this boosted public perception of the National Lottery brand, to levels that matched its positive image in the wake of announcing funding commitments during the first Covid-19 lockdown.

“This record first half shows that The National Lottery continues to be in its best-ever shape as it delivers for Good Causes, players, retailers and Treasury,” Railton said.

“Following four years of sales growth, including record results last year, I am extremely grateful to my colleagues and the wider National Lottery family of Good Causes distributors and retailers for their role in this ongoing success story.”

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