Preparation for the next UK National Lottery competition gathers pace

As reported on its website, on 16 November 2018 the Gambling Commission began its initial, global market engagement to hear from businesses and investors interested in the UK National Lottery, when the current licence comes to an end in 2023. The Commission’s CEO, Neil McArthur, talked in a blog published on the same day about the next competition to run the National Lottery.

In a speech delivered by Neil McArthur (pictured above) on 7 March 2019, the Commission has called upon the media, telecoms and technology industries to help bring innovation to the next National Lottery licence. This is reported as follows on the Commission’s website:

Speaking at the Media & Telecoms 2019 & Beyond event in London, the Gambling Commission’s Chief Executive, Neil McArthur, addressed more than 450 key players from some of the world’s leading media and communications businesses.

The event was the largest platform for the licence competition since the launch of its initial market engagement in November 2018 and was a clear sign that the Gambling Commission is seeking to capitalise on the innovation expertise.

In his speech, Neil McArthur told delegates: “The National Lottery has been an incredible success and its potential is huge.  Harnessing technology, understanding consumer behaviour and innovating to keep players engaged and safe are the keys to unlocking that potential. When I look around this room, I see lots of pioneers and innovators.  I see a room full of people who will have a vision of what the future may look like in their field of expertise.  And I’d like you to share your thoughts with me and my colleagues, so we can get a clearer view of what the world might look like in 2023 and beyond.”

To coincide with the speech, the Commission began a marketing drive to engage organisations from all industries, including the finance, media, telecoms and technology sectors, to invite them to join the conversation and listen to their ideas for the next licence as we prepare for the competition launch early next year.

You can download below:

It is intended that regular updates on the licence competition will be published on the Fourth National Lottery Licence Competition website here.

You can read more about:

  • the National Lottery generally on the Gambling Commission’s website here,
  • the National Lottery statutory framework here,
  • the structure of the present National Lottery operator here,
  • the licence to run the National Lottery here,
  • how the Commission regulates the National Lottery here and
  • National Lottery licence breaches here.

The National Lottery Competition Committee is made up of the following four Gambling Commissioners:

Member Role
Stephen Cohen (chair) Commissioner
John Baillie Commissioner
Carol Brady Commissioner
Catherine Seddon Commissioner


  1. On 14 March 2019, the Gambling Commission issued an invitation to all interested parties to attend a market engagement session, taking place between 09:00 and 12:30 on 25 March 2019 at techUK, 10 St Bride Street, London EC4A 4AD. You can find details of that event here.
  2. On 4 June 2019, Camelot UK Lotteries Limited, the present operator of the National Lottery, announced that it had raised £40 billion for good causes since 1994, prompting the Gambling Commission’s CEO, Neil McArthur, to say: “This is an incredible achievement – National Lottery players have now raised £40 billion for good causes across the UK since it was launched in 1994. Ensuring that returns to good causes are maximised is a priority for us as a regulator. This will remain a priority as we look to the future and at how technology and innovation can ensure that the success of the National Lottery continues in the years ahead”.
  3. On 16 July 2019, a consultation was launched by DCMS on plans to increase to 18 the minimum age to play National Lottery scratchcards and online instant win games (on which we have reported here).
  4. On 19 July 2019, as reported by us here, it was announced that the DCMS Committee is launching an inquiry to consider whether changes are needed in the operation of the National Lottery as the process begins to award a new licence from 2023.
  5. On 22 July 2019, it was announced that the Gambling Commission had appointed Rothschild & Co to engage parties interested in the fourth National Lottery licence competition, ahead of the official launch of the competition that is currently projected to take place at the end of March 2020. Other advisors on the programme include EY who are supporting the commercial and competition design, Deloitte who are supporting policy development and licence design, and Hogan Lovells who are the Commission’s external legal advisors. In the announcement (that you can download below) it is also confirmed that:
    • “following feedback from the market, it has been decided that the fourth licence should be awarded to a single licensee as that is considered the best way to serve the National Lottery and returns to good causes”;
    • John Tanner has been appointed Executive Director and Senior Responsible Officer (SRO), charged with leading the programme and delivering the competition;
    • Andrew Wilson has been appointed Commercial Director.
  6. On 22 July 2019, Neil McArthur, Chief Executive, Gambling Commission and a colleague gave oral evidence to the DCMS Select Committee Inquiry into immersive and addictive technologies. Towards the conclusion of that oral evidence session, the Chairman of the Committee, Damian Collins MP, asked Neil McArthur a series of questions concerning the current position in relation to the fourth National Lottery competition. We have reported on the exchanges between them in an update to our separate website posting here.
  7. On 14 October 2019, a 4NLC Programme Update was published (that you can download below). It sets out the three key policy areas that the Gambling Commission is looking at in the run up to the competition, namely:
    1. Protecting the National Lottery asset
      • Propriety – To ensure:
        • “the operator is fit and proper, and that the National Lottery continues to be run with due propriety”,
        • “the operator observes high standards of corporate governance, including the way it manages staff, contractors and its relationships with shareholders”,
        • “that the National Lottery is financially resilient and run with integrity, protecting its reputation and brand value” and
        • “the operator innovates and collaborates with funding distributors to improve the public’s understanding of the link between playing the National Lottery and good causes”.
      • Branding – “Brand is key to generating participation and therefore returns to good causes. The Gambling Commission owns the National Lottery brand and associated intellectual property and licenses the operator to use it. We will ensure that the National Lottery remains distinctive and instantly recognisable by requiring the operator to use the brand only in relation to National Lottery products”.
    2. Protecting and engaging players
      • Player protection – By setting outcomes-focused licence conditions, e.g. “to prevent underage and excessive play, to ensure that players understand the games and conditions of play, and to deal effectively with complaints”, and expecting the licensee to contribute to research, prevention and treatment
      • National Lottery portfolio of games and channels of sale – Freedom to develop the National Lottery in line with maximising returns to good causes: “We will streamline the process for games approval to allow greater flexibility and improved time-to-market. We will safeguard key features of the National Lottery, for example, by ensuring that draw-based games remain at its core”
    3. Incentivising and monitoring the operator’s performance
      • Number of licences – One single licensee as “that is considered the best way to serve the National Lottery and returns to good causes”
      • Duration of the fourth licence – “A licence of up to ten-years will allow time for investment while maintaining competitive discipline”
      • Retention structure – To determine the proportion of revenue from sales which goes to good causes, and how much is retained by the operator: “Compared with current arrangements, the new structure will align the operator’s incentives across the portfolio more closely with returns to good causes”
      • Monitoring performance – “This will involve a broad set of tools and safeguards including earned autonomy, performance metrics, a stronger role for operator assurance, and clear remedies for under performance”.
  8. On 18 November 2019, “Recommendation for External Stakeholders” – also downloadable below – was published, explaining:
    • the Gambling Commission’s expectations for interaction between the 4th National Lottery Licence Competition (“4NLC”) team and stakeholders with a role relevant to the competition, and
    • how the Commission expects external stakeholders to interact with potential applicants to the 4NLC and its recommended protocols for such interactions.
  9. Due to the General Election on 12 December 2019, the DCMS Select Committee closed its Inquiry into the Future of the National Lottery (to which we have referred at Update 4 above), but you can access here all of the written evidence submitted to the Committee before then, including that submitted by:
  10. On 6 May 2020, we commented in a website posting entitled “Delay reported for the UK’s Fourth National Lottery Licence Competition” on media reports that 4NLC has been delayed by reason of the coronavirus pandemic, with the Gambling Commission quoted as saying that:
    • the lockdown has created too much uncertainty for the contest to launch on the scheduled date of 7 May 2020 and
    • potential bidders have been told that an update on the timetable will be provided in late May 2020.
Download article PDF: 4NLC Programme Update 14.10.19