Sir Richard Branson will make a third attempt to wrest control of the National Lottery from incumbent Camelot, almost twenty years on from the last of his past efforts.
The decision to enter the running to displace the Canadian company as the lottery operator reignites a rivalry that in the past led to a High Court battle.
The Sunday Telegraph revealed that representatives for the billionaire founder of the Virgin group had held talks with advisers running the contest to find next operator.
However, Branson will not get a clear run at Camelot, as the process is already inundated with parties who have declared an interest.
Publishing magnate Richard Desmond, who currently runs the Health Lottery at a loss, has already entered the fray.
Desmond’s company Northern & Shell have attacked Camelot for running a “tired, old-fashioned and out-of-date” format in desperate need of new life.
In 1994, the authorities decided against Branson’s bid, whilst in 2000 only the overturning of a decision to disqualify Camelot by the High Court prevented a Branson victory.
Sources told the Telegraph that the bid will centre around how to modernise the National Lottery as a means of attracting more younger players and compete better with other online gambling firms.
Other parties reported to be interested in bidding include Dutch company Novamedia, which operates the People’s Postcode Lottery, and Czech company Sazka.
Rothschild, EY, Deloitte and Hogan Lovells have been appointed to run the bidding process. Bidders have until mid-December to formally express interest, with a draft license to be published in March.
The final selection is expected to be made in 2021, with the new operator taking control in 2023.