Crucially, this raised more than £1.8billion for good causes, up £200million from the year before – providing a massive boost at a time when the UK needs it the most. On top of this, it paid nearly £950million in tax and, on average, £7,000 each in commission to its 44,000 retail partners, many small independent shops. Most importantly, this record performance has meant the National Lottery’s response to the coronavirus crisis is the largest in the UK outside of central government – and that is thanks to everyone who buys a ticket for a chance to win.
Many of the organisations that do such vital work for our communities – particularly the smaller organisations and charities – have struggled to stay afloat during this crisis.
That’s why I am particularly pleased that National Lottery distributors have directed £600million to UK charities and organisations to tackle the impact of Covid-19. This means hundreds of millions of pounds in vital funding is already helping those most in need.
Of course, we could not have done any of this without your support. Everyone who has ever bought a ticket has contributed to the £41billion The National Lottery has given to good causes since 1994.
This has allowed millions of dedicated people across the UK, including many Daily Express readers, to continue their sterling effort helping others and supporting neighbourhoods and communities. In fact, National Lottery players have supported 565,000 individual projects since launch – that’s more than 200, on average, in every UK postcode. And we all know what a challenge it has been for our shops and stores during this pandemic.
The fact that so many retailers have stayed open throughout the entire crisis, supplying the country with its most vital supplies during the lockdown, is a source of pride for us all.
Our amazing retailer partners helped us boost sales of our National Lottery games by £74million to £5.4billion over the past 12 months – an even more remarkable achievement against a backdrop of ongoing challenges in the retail environment. The shops where 70 per cent of our tickets are sold are the life-blood of our business, and whether they are a large store or the smallest corner shop, they remain absolutely vital to the success of The National Lottery.
But we haven’t always got it right and, three years ago, we carried out a detailed review.
Since then, and by listening to you, we have refined and improved some of our best-loved games. We made changes to our Lotto game – including bigger, fixed-cash prizes and regular “Must be Won” draws (where the jackpot is regularly shared between all cash winners and hundreds of thousands of players win £100 or more for matching three numbers).
I am delighted to say that we’ve seen Lotto sales increase – making The National Lottery one of the few lotteries globally to be growing sales of its original game. We also launched the very popular Set For Life – in which you can win £10,000 a month for 30 years – a game that has exceeded our expectations and has so far created 16 top prize winners since its launch last year.
We’ve also tried to make our online experience better – and this has paid off, with record digital National Lottery sales over the year.
The National Lottery has created 355 new millionaires over the past year – including the UK’s biggest-ever winner, an anonymous ticket-holder who scooped a £170million EuroMillions jackpot in October. I doubt many would have predicted in 1994 that the National Lottery would make 5,700 people millionaires or multimillionaires in this time.
The National Lottery is in great shape, but there’s always more work to be done.
Over recent years, we have been working closely with the distributors to put a real drive behind initiatives to raise awareness of all the good that the National Lottery does – to better connect its purpose with buying a ticket. I was particularly proud of the way we worked together for The National Lottery’s 25th birthday in November, a UK-wide celebration of the amazing things that have been made possible thanks to its players since 1994.
This included National Lottery Cinema Day and #ThanksToYou, which offered players a free cinema ticket or entry into National Lottery-funded venues – an initiative championed by the Daily Express. And this will remain a great focus for us in the future.
Nigel Railton is the Chief Executive of Camelot
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