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Richard Desmond 'plans National Lottery bid'

From BBC - November 12, 2017

Richard Desmond, the owner of the Daily and Sunday Express newspapers, plans to bid for the right to run the National Lottery when it comes up for renewal.

The plans by Mr Desmond, who runs the Health Lottery, have been reported in the Financial Times.

Camelot has held the UK's lottery franchise since it was set up in 1994.

A challenge to its monopoly would be the first since Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group failed to win the franchise in 2000.

Camelot has the right to run the National Lottery until 2023 - after securing a four-year extension to its contract in 2012. It expected the franchise renewal process will begin in 2019.

A bid would be made through Mr Desmond's company, Northern and Shell, which owns his newspaper and magazine titles.

He has run the loss-making Health Lottery since 2011. It is not a national lottery but a collection of 51 local society lotteries that raise funds for health-related good causes.

However, they collectively pay out less in winnings than the National Lottery.

Camelot failed in a 2012 High Court bid to have the Gambling Commission's licence for the Health Lottery revoked.

Martin Ellice, joint managing director of Northern and Shell, told the FT the company would make a bid, saying: "We are in the lottery business now."

Mr Desmond sold Channel 5 to Viacom, the MTV and Nickelodeon owner, for 450m in 2014 and is in talks with the Mirror Group to sell the Express and Star titles.

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