The tech retail giant Amazon was reportedly in talks with the UK Gambling Commission over a potential tender to operate the National Lottery.
According to a story in the Mail on Sunday, the two groups had entered into preliminary discussions at the beginning of this year, before Amazon decided against proceeding.
The intent alone is indicative, representing the first major tech company to proactively explore a move into the gambling space. Rothschild bank, which is running marketing for potential bids, has reportedly been contacting tech firms to see if their digital prowess could be turned to lottery operations.
Amazon’s withdrawal leaves three billionaires in the running to succeed Camelot. Two time bidder Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, is competing against Sir Richard Desmond, who operates the Health Lottery, and the Czech businessman Karel Komarek, whose Saska Group recently cleared a path towards taking over Novomatic’s share in the Austrian lottery assuming majority control.
The current operator, Camelot, which is owned by a Canadian pension fund, is also hoping to retain its licence after it expires in 2023. However the company has faced various criticisms over its management, how much of the funds have been allocated to good causes and the sticky issue of profits being repatriated back to Canada.
Meanwhile British-born Branson contends he would run the National Lottery through a not-for-profit organisation.