The UK Gambling Commission has launched the National Lottery’s fourth licence competition, seeking a framework that maximises the opportunities for players and good causes to benefit.

As a result, interested parties are being invited to take part in the first formal stage of the competition, with applicants that pass receiving an ‘Invitation to Apply’ and supporting documents in order to begin preparing their full application.

The moves comes as the regulator seeks bids to challenge Camelot UK, which has operated the lottery since it was established in 1994, as the current licence nears expiry in 2023.

Winning new contracts in both 2001 and 2007, Camelot’s third, and current, ten-year licence commenced in 2009 and was subsequently extended by four years in March 2012. The preferred applicant will be announced September 2021. 

Nigel Huddleston, minister for sports, tourism and heritage, said: “The National Lottery has a positive impact on communities right across the UK, supporting thousands of good causes as well as the sectors that brighten up our lives including the arts, culture, heritage and sport. 

“The fourth licence competition will secure the National Lottery’s future combining safe play with life-changing prizes. Most importantly it will help raise billions more pounds to benefit people’s lives in villages, towns and cities throughout the country.” 

Seeking to build on past successes, the regulator has outlined a number of key changes for the fourth licence, including a fixed ten-year term, focus on performance and an incentive mechanism to ensure the licensee’s incentives and delivery are closely aligned with returns to good causes.

Furthermore, the licensee will be required to foster stronger relationships with the distributors of National Lottery funding to further strengthen the link between the brand, players, and good causes.

Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive, explained: “Today, the competition for the fourth National Lottery licence begins. Over the last quarter of a century, it has made an unprecedented contribution to communities across the UK and has made a difference to the lives of millions. 

“The National Lottery is a national treasure. It has a reputation for providing enjoyable games and a high degree of player protection, as well as a rich history of prize giving and returns to good causes. We are determined to protect and build on the reputation of the National Lottery. 

“For the fourth licence, we will be evolving our approach to regulation to build on the National Lottery’s huge successes. In line with our outcomes-focused approach to regulation, we want the next licensee to have greater autonomy to meet the needs of players in 2023 and beyond, whilst ensuring there is clear accountability for the performance of the National Lottery. 

“Throughout our market engagement, we have been encouraged by a healthy level of interest from a range of different parties and we look forward to running a competitive process.” 

Since launching in 1994, players have collectively raised more than £41bn for 565,000 good causes across the UK, contributing to the arts, sport, heritage and communities.

Dawn Austwick, chief executive of The National Lottery Community Fund, and chair of The National Lottery Forum, commented: “The National Lottery has been at the cornerstone of communities across the UK for 25 years. In this time, National Lottery players have raised £41bn for good causes, supporting arts, sport, heritage and communities and transforming people’s lives. We welcome a strong competition to ensure this success continues for years to come.”