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Branson wins Lottery licence. Sort of

It's looking more and more like a cock-up

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Updated The Lottery Commission's decision on who would run the National Lottery for the next seven years nearly descended into farce today when its long-awaited decision was that neither incumbent Camelot nor Richard Branson-led consortium The People's Lottery had won outright.

Initial confusion was overrun by a subsequent announcement that the commission would be holding further talks with only one bidder - The People's Lottery - over how it could improve its bid. Camelot - which has been running the Lottery since its inception - was ruled out because the commission felt its problems with software from US firm GTec (which provides the lottery terminals) hadn't been sorted out.

Both bidders made the use of the Internet and WAP phones for wider access to the Lottery a mainplank of their bid (Branson first, swiftly followed by Camelot, which tied in Nokia, Vodafone and Freeserve). Another feature was The People's Lottery's intention to run it as a not-for-profit organisation. This caused Camelot - criticised last year for the bonuses taken by "fat cat" directors - to halve its cut to 1p a ticket.

The perceived problems with Branson's bid were left vague, although the commission said it had doubts about its ability to "protect players".

The decision today had been delayed from June, and the new licence is to take affect from October next year.

Update: Hold up. Following initial reporting of the Lottery fiasco, the chair(wo)man of the Lottery Commission has said that Camelot isn't necessarily out of the running. Eh? Well, if The People's Lottery isn't up to scratch following their discussions, then the door may again open for Camelot. What the hell is going on here? We respect the commission's balls
to not make a decision because it was unhappy with both bids, but this is beginning to look like a case of jumped-up, blinkered bureaucrats. We say:
sort it out. ®

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