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Amazon held talks on bid to takeover the UK National Lottery

Mar 16, 2020, 10:59 am

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UK National Lottery

Amazon held talks about bidding to run the United Kingdom National Lottery, The Mail on Sunday revealed.

The discussions fizzled out, but the US tech giant's interest raises the prospect of it entering Britain's gambling market at some stage.

Amazon, owned by the world's richest man, Jeff Bezos, has more than 300 million active customer accounts. 

It may have seen the Lottery as a chance to take the competition online and widen its reach.

City sources told The Mail that only preliminary discussions were held before Amazon decided against proceeding.

The Gambling Commission, which is running the bidding process, is understood to be interested in widening the search for the next Lottery operator to digital companies.

This is a response to the huge rise in smartphone use since the last licence was awarded in 2009. Rothschild, the bank running marketing for the bids, has contacted tech firms to canvass appetite for making a bid.

Amazon's snub leaves three billionaires leading the race to seize control of the Lottery from Camelot, which has held the license since the game's launch in 1994.

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson will go head to head with former press baron Sir Richard Desmond, who operates the Health Lottery, and the Czech businessman Karel Komarek, whose Sazka Group runs lotteries across the Continent.

Camelot, owned by a Canadian pension fund, hopes to retain the licence when its franchise ends in 2023 but has been criticised for not giving enough to good causes.

If Branson succeeds, after two failed bids, he plans to run the Lottery through a new not-for-profit firm. Amazon declined to comment.

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