Elaine Watson
Retailers were still waiting to see how government plans to overhaul the lottery licensing process might affect them as The Grocer went to press.
In a White Paper, culture secretary Tessa Jowell unveiled plans to let companies bid for licences to run different parts of the lottery from 2009.
This might involve separate licences for scratchcards, web-based games, an international lottery and other new games as well as the main draw, which would remain in the hands of a single operator. Licence periods would also be reviewed.
She said: "We must inject significantly greater competition into the licensing process." The move follows news that weekly lottery sales have dipped from a peak of over £100m to £85m. Currently, around 70% of lottery sales are from the main draw, with the remainder from scratchcards, Thunderball, Hotpicks and other games. A spokesman for the department of Culture, Media and Sport said: "You could still have one terminal, but it could be used by several different companies."
Morning Noon & Night chairman Eddie Thompson said it was not clear how this might work in practice. "Whatever is decided, the views of independent retailers who operate 65% of terminals should be taken into consideration."
Spar retail director Steve Blackmore said retailers were chiefly interested in getting a decent level of commission and strong volumes, irrespective of the licence holder.

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