Mills is a successful entrepreneur who founded Air Miles, which revolutionised frequent flyer programmes, then went on to produce the Nectar Card – a widely used loyalty scheme in the UK – through his company Loyalty Management UK.
He also served as chief executive and international president of the London 2012 campaign, which saw the Olympics come to the British capital, and deputy chair of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Sir Keith Mills and have him lead our entry in the fourth National Lottery licence competition,” Sazka chief executive Robert Chvátal said. “We are hugely excited to be participating in this competition and for the chance to take stewardship of the National Lottery, helping the UK to fall back in love with this vital institution.”
Since the Olympics, Mills has chaired the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and also serves as chair of the Invictus Games, an international sporting event created by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.
“I am driven by organisations that make a real contribution to society,” Mills said of his new role. “I chose to team up with Sazka for the Fourth National Lottery Licence Competition because I believe the UK National Lottery needs to grow and be engaging if it is to continue to fund the thousands of good causes every year.
“Our lottery is a national treasure with nearly 26 years of history; however, the landscape has changed immeasurably since it was first launched back in 1994. The challenge now is to ensure the lottery connects with people right across the country, making it fresh and exciting as it once was, bringing new ways that are relevant for today and tomorrow’s generation.
“I feel passionately that it needs to be restored to the nation’s hearts, especially in these difficult times.”
Sazka has now revealed that it has been accepted to compete for the licence by the Gambling Commission, which runs the process. Its team will now review the final bid application documents and continue to build a team “capable of submitting a winning bid” next year.
This team, with “world class bidding and delivery experience”, will include former London 2021 employee Alastair Ruxton, who will serve as bid director. Mills and Ruxton will be supported by local experts in key fields such as player protection, good causes, innovation, digital, retail and customer experience.
“I teamed up with Sazka because they have a proven record of taking established lotteries, growing them and evolving them to be relevant for the future,” Mills said of Sazka. “I am cognisant that much has to be done for us to make a winning case in this competition, but I believe that over the course of this process we will be able to demonstrate how Sazka’s expertise coupled with the experienced British team that we are building in the UK will offer the right stewardship for the UKNL for 2023 and beyond.”
Chvátal added: “Operating in five different national markets (Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Greece, and Cyprus) has given us an unprecedented level of insight and experience in running lotteries.
“In addition, we have consistently increased participation and revenues for the lotteries we operate,” he explained. “We want to bring this deep knowledge and customer insight to revitalise the UK National Lottery increasing sales and money raised for good causes, thereby providing a much-needed long-term boost to community, arts, sports and heritage institutions across the UK.”