Lotto operator Camelot has reversed its decision to drop a free retail hotline for newsagents, nearly two years after scrapping the service.

Camelot caused uproar among independent retailers in October 2015 when it moved the free help and advice service to a 7p a minute 0844 number.

But the free hotline will be reinstated on Friday as part of the launch of its ‘AllStars’ support package for independent retailers, which includes a £4m-plus investment in new and extra PoS materials and signage.

“We introduced a charge for the retailer hotline at the same time as investing in a range of free-to-use digital tools - including a brand new retailer website and IVR system - to make it much easier for our retailers to self-serve, particularly outside normal office hours,” said a Camelot spokeswoman.

“Although these are now established, we’ve listened to feedback from our retailers and appreciate that digital tools may not always be convenient for them, especially during busy periods. We’re also aware of how hard it is currently for everyone trading on the high street.”

The u-turn comes following the National Federation Of Retail Newsagents’ two-year campaign to have the free hotline reinstated.

It had warned retailers would end up paying out more to use the service than they would generate in commission from selling scratch cards and lottery tickets.

“Through this new package of support, including the return of a new retail hotline to report service-related issues, Camelot is demonstrating that it recognises the vital role that independent retailers play in the success of the national lottery and the money it raises for good causes,” said NFRN chief executive Paul Baxter.

“The NFRN and its members welcome this vote of confidence in the independent sector and we look forward to working closely with Camelot to generate extra sales.”