The tender was announced in August 2020, and was initially set to last a year, with a winner selected in September of this year.
However, after the first phase of the bidding process, the regulator has opted to add another four weeks to the second phase, plus six further weeks for the Commission to evaluate bids.
The gambling Commission will then announce the winning bid in February 2022.
“These changes will provide opportunity for applicants to further refine their proposals and for the Commission to evaluate,” the regulator said.
In order to then ensure a “smooth transition” to the next licence, the third licence – belonging to Camelot – will be extended for six months, until February 2024.
“Our job is to run the best competition we possibly can – one that is open and fair and results in the best outcome for players and good causes,” the Commission said. “We want to appoint a licensee that can build on the National Lottery’s legacy and find new opportunities for a sustainable and successful future.
“We remain encouraged by the number of applications received and we look forward to evaluating phase two proposals as part of a robust process.”
A Camelot spokesperson said the operator would continue to work on delivering a strong lottery product and generating funds for good causes for the duration of its licence term.
“We have received notice in writing from the Gambling Commission of its intention to extend the third licence to run The National Lottery by six months, with the fourth licence beginning in February 2024,” the spokesperson said. “We remain focused on continuing to build on four years of successive growth, which has seen us achieve record sales, and delivering even more money for Good Causes – funding which is vitally important as the UK continues to recover from the Covid-19 crisis.”
Pan-European lottery and gaming giant Sazka Group was the first operator to announce its intention to compete for the licence in October 2020, while Sugal & Damani, India’s largest lottery operator, joined the race later that month.
Italian operator Sisal threw its hat in the ring late in the process in April. The operator has partnered with telecommunications giant BT on the bid, with the aim of using new technologies to widen the appeal of lottery games.
Incumbent licensee Camelot completed the Selection Questionnaire in October, but has not yet publicly confirmed whether it was bidding for the tender.
Yesterday, the Commission also released data on the amount of funds from National Lottery Sales that were distributed to good causes in the quarter ended 30 June, the first quarter of the lottery’s financial year.
In total, the lottery raised £420.7m, up 10.0% from Q1 of 2020-21, but down from any of the three previous quarters.
The regulator said the quarter-on-quarter decrease was mostly due to a lower number of large rollover Euromillions jackpots, which led to a 17.8% quarter-on-quarter decline in sales, including a 30% decline in Euromillions sales.