Sazka’s plans to make UK National Lottery more digital criticised by Newsagents

The President of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents has criticised plans by the Sazka Group to have a more digital approach to the National Lottery.
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Stuart Reddish, the President of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN), has criticised plans by the Sazka Group to have a more digital approach to the UK National Lottery if it is awarded the Fourth National Lottery Licence.

Sazka is one of several bidders running for the Fourth National Lottery Licence, which include current licence holders Camelot and India’s Sugal & Damani.

To bolster its approach, the Pan-European lottery operator has hired Sir Keith Mills as its bid chair, as well as several others to form an advisory board with experience in a variety of sectors including good causes, player protection, digital and innovation, and entertainment.

Current members of the board include former Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King, former Global CEO of Syco Entertainment Charles Garland, and founder Brent Hoberman.

Mills recently claimed in an interview with the Financial Times that the National Lottery needs to be ‘reinvigorated,’ otherwise ‘it will go into a decline,’ as its current operators Camelot have ‘not kept pace with change,’ of online gambling.

He believes the lottery needs to be hauled into the digital age with scratch cards on mobile phones and a greater presence on social media to halt the decline in people playing.

However, according to the Express, NFRN’s President Reddish has criticised Sazka’s plans to take lottery ticket sales online.

He was quoted: “Since its launch, the National Lottery has been about supporting local communities. Thousands of news and convenience stores have worked hard to provide access to draws and scratchcards for those who want to have a flutter while supporting good causes.

“Taking the lottery online makes no sense at a time when the British public have been rediscovering the benefits of shopping at their local convenience stores. The proposals would amount to a major kick in the teeth for the very community retailers who, over the last 27 years, have made the Lottery the success it is.”

Reddish added: “From Sir Keith’s comments, it sadly appears that Sazka sees the National Lottery as a global gambling money-spinner, supported by big business and investment companies and distant from the players, retailers, and communities that it is supposed to support.

“The NFRN welcomes dialogue with anyone wishing to bid for the lottery. We represent a large number of outlets, so anyone bidding for the new licence will need to work with us.”

Camelot has held the National Lottery licence since its inception in 1994, and its current 14-year term will end in 2023.

Bidders for the National Lottery must submit initial proposals to the UK Gambling Commission in April and the preferred bidder is expected to be announced in September.