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Fourth National Lottery licence competition launched

28 August 2020

The Gambling Commission has today, 28 August, launched the competition to award the fourth National Lottery licence.

The National Lottery is one of the world’s largest lotteries and the current (third) licence is due to expire in 2023. Since launching in 1994, National Lottery players have collectively raised more than £41 billion for 565,000 good causes across the UK, transforming lives and contributing to the arts, sport, heritage and communities.

The next licence seeks to build on that success by creating a framework that maximises the opportunities for players and good causes to benefit from innovation and creativity, whilst protecting the National Lottery’s unique status.

Key changes for the fourth licence include:

  • a fixed 10-year licence - a fixed term means that the licensee has a clear period for investment planning
  • focusing on performance - building on the National Lottery’s success to-date, the new licence will provide greater flexibility to maximise returns to good causes, hand in hand with ensuring safe and fair play
  • incentive mechanism - a new incentive mechanism will ensure the licensee’s incentives and delivery are closely aligned with returns to good causes
  • protecting the brand - the licensee will be required to foster stronger relationships with the distributors of National Lottery funding to further strengthen the link between the National Lottery brand, its players, and good causes.

In 2018, the Commission began an extensive programme of global market engagement to hear from businesses and investors interested in the future of the National Lottery.

Today, interested parties are being invited to take part in the first formal stage of the competition. Applicants that pass through this stage will receive the Invitation to Apply (ITA) and supporting documents in order to begin preparing their application.

The preferred applicant will be announced September 2021.

Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission Chief Executive, said: “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-focussed 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.”

Minister for Sports, Tourism and Heritage Nigel Huddleston 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."

Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Community Fund, and Chair of The National Lottery Forum, said: “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.”

More information

All documents shared with potential applicants at this stage are provided on the basis that they are in proposal format and, therefore, subject to change. The proposed licence can be made available on request.

Note to editors

National Lottery facts and figures

  • The National Lottery is the 5th largest lottery in the world
  • since launch in 1994, the National Lottery has awarded more than £41 billion to good causes
  • more than £30 million is raised for good causes, every week
  • 565,000 projects have been backed by National Lottery funding
  • £75 billion has been awarded in prize money
  • there are 8 million prize winners every week
  • The National Lottery has created 5,700 new millionaires.

Funding raised by National Lottery players is donated to good causes through 12 distributing bodies. They ensure the money goes exactly where it is needed across the UK. To find out more about the distributors, visit the National Lottery good causes website (opens in new tab).

About the Gambling Commission

As the UK’s independent, statutory body responsible for awarding the licence to run the National Lottery, the Gambling Commission is tasked with regulating it to ensure safe and fair play.

As part of our responsibility as a regulator, the Commission has three overriding statutory duties:

  • ensuring the National Lottery is run with propriety
  • ensuring that participants’ interests are protected
  • (subject to those two duties) doing our best to ensure the proceeds from the National Lottery are as great as possible.

Whilst the Gambling Commission is responsible for managing the competition and regulating the National Lottery, the distribution of funds it generates is separate. This is carried out by independent distribution bodies, overseen by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and devolved administrations.

For all media enquiries, please contact the Gambling Commission press office.

Last updated: 8 October 2021

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