Falling sales of tickets and instant win games amid signs that players had “tightened their belts” in the face of soaring costs are hitting outgoing UK National Lottery operator Camelot hard.
Camelot, which recently launched legal action against the Gambling Commission after losing the lottery’s next licence to rival Allwyn, saw sales drop 3 per cent or £283.2m to £8.1bn in the year to March 31.
It said most of the drop was down to a 7 per cent decline in sales of National Lottery Instants – down £240m to £3.4bn.
The group partly put the fall down to the ending of Covid restrictions, which is saw meant there was “greater competition for people’s attention and spend”.
But it also revealed that “growing economic uncertainty” held back instant sales as consumers came under pressure from rising cost pressures, while scratch card sales remained below pre-pandemic levels.
Sales across the 44,500 retailers offering National Lottery products fell 4 per cent to £4.7m over the year.
The operator blamed pandemic restrictions in the early part of the year, but more recently the cost of living crisis, which it said had slowed down the retail recovery as “consumers tightened their belts”.
Retailers still account for nearly 60 per cent of all sales for the group, it added.
The group said draw-based games fared better, though ticket sales still edged £43.2m lower to £4.6bn, with fewer large EuroMillions rollovers.
There were 15 draws with a jackpot of over £100m in 2021/22 compared with 22 the year before, it said.
Camelot added the ending of Covid restrictions has seen online sales fall by £93m to £3.4bn, although it added this was also due to the introduction of lower online play and wallet limits for potentially at-risk players.
It said £1.9bn was generated for good causes over the year – an increase of £24.3m on last year and the equivalent of £36m every week, making it the second best total raised.
Camelot chief executive Nigel Railton said: “Achieving National Lottery sales of over £8bn two years in a row while maintaining very high levels of public participation – despite the challenging and changing external environment – proves that our strategy of offering great consumer choice in a safe and convenient way continues to be hugely successful.”
“In the year ahead, we’ll continue to invest and innovate to respond to the changing consumer environment,” he said.
In March, Camelot lost the licence to operate the lottery from 2024 after 30 years running the game.
The five-year licence was awarded to Allwyn, previously known as Sazka, which runs lotteries in Austria, Italy and Greece, and proposes to cut the cost of UK tickets from £2 to £1.
But Camelot launched legal proceedings just a month later challenging the decision.
Questions have also been raised over the links of Allwyn’s sister company to Russian gas giant Gazprom.
Labour MPs have asked the Government what checks have been made to ensure it does not have financial or political ties to the Vladimir Putin regime.
Allwyn’s sister company MND runs a gas storage venture with Gazprom in the Czech Republic but is looking at ways to end the Russian firm’s involvement.