Around 60% of UK adults currently play our games, with the demographics of play closely mirroring the demographics of the UK population as a whole. In addition, despite being the fifth largest lottery in the world by sales, The National Lottery is ranked just 60th in the world in terms of per capita spend. (Source: La Fleur’s World Lottery Almanac 2021)
Key to our success in responsibly encouraging lots of people to play a little is the work we carry out to attract the broadest possible player base. We do this by offering a range of distinct games that complement, rather than compete against, each other – with prizes, chances to win, play styles and prices to suit different needs, tastes and pockets.
During the year, we maintained our longstanding focus on our strategy for long-term, sustainable growth by continuing to innovate and enhance across our portfolio to offer people a choice of individual games that really stand out from each other.
In November, for example, we enhanced our Lotto game by giving players an additional cash prize for the first time for matching two main numbers in a ’Must Be Won’ Rolldown draw. In the very first draw following the change, over 1.2 million winners scooped the new, boosted prize – and the change has gone on to drive sales and player excitement, and helped us to raise even more money for Good Causes.
The most recent addition to our range of draw-based games, Set For Life, is also performing very strongly and is exceeding sales expectations. And we continued to make improvements to our range of Instants games by giving people greater choice through a regularly updated selection of differently priced products with diverse themes, both in-store and online.
We also continued to invest in and innovate across our retail and digital channels to ensure that people can enjoy playing National Lottery games when they want and where they want.
For example, we carried out further work to better reflect the changing retail landscape, with innovative rollouts in Aldi and Iceland, as well as making National Lottery Scratchcards available for home delivery with Asda.com and Tesco.com. We also brought in new measures – such as moving our ’Site, Stock, Sell’ retailer rewards programme online – to support and make life easier and safer for our thousands of independent retail partners.
Even though we operate the world’s biggest online lottery in terms of revenue, we also continued to invest in our digital channels to make sure that we’re continually improving the customer journey and giving players an even more personalised experience.
For example, we made improvements to our website and apps – including a recently launched, fun and interactive ’number picker’ for draw-based games – to make them more user-friendly and engaging. We also introduced a series of step-by-step ’how to’ videos to make it easier for players who had never played online before to do so.
As well as all of the activity we carried out to support our games and sales channels, we worked closely throughout the year with the wider National Lottery family – especially the National Lottery Distributors – to make The National Lottery brand more relevant and visible, and to better connect The National Lottery’s unique purpose with play.
At the heart of this activity was a steady drumbeat of Good Causes advertising – firstly to highlight The National Lottery’s huge financial package of support for the country’s response to the pandemic and to remind players of the massive difference they are making to the national effort, before settling into campaigns to shine a spotlight on the amazing individuals making a real difference in their communities and the £30 million-plus raised every week by National Lottery players.
Our strategy for long-term, responsible growth is working: we’ve now achieved four years of successive sales growth, and The National Lottery’s brand positivity scores are consistently at their highest levels on record and driving greater player participation. As a result, we’ve grown total National Lottery sales by 62% since the start of the third licence period – an outstanding achievement and clear evidence that The National Lottery has never been healthier.
Most importantly, our success continues to be underpinned by our commitment to selling tickets in a socially responsible way. We continue to be a world leader when it comes to healthy play, with lots of people playing a little. Although it’s widely recognised that National Lottery games pose an extremely low risk of causing harm to players, we continued to invest significantly in our healthy play tools, particularly online because of the shift from retail to digital driven by lockdown.
For example, we continued to enhance and promote our ’DREAM BIG PLAY SMALL’ healthy play message, further embedding it across retail and digital player journeys this year, and more than doubling the number of touchpoints where it appears. We also increased the number of healthy play communications sent to all players throughout the pandemic, and continued to have personalised interactions with the very small number of players who showed signs of potentially unhealthy play.
Our core millionaire-maker game offers players two chances to become a millionaire – either by scooping the jackpot or matching five main numbers plus the Bonus Ball to win £1 million. Lotto takes place every Wednesday and Saturday, and costs £2.00 to play.
Our huge, rolling jackpot game offers players the biggest jackpots, plus one guaranteed £1 million prize for UK players in every draw with the UK Millionaire Maker. EuroMillions takes place every Tuesday and Friday, and costs £2.50 to play.
The most recent addition to our range of draw-based games, our annuity game offers players the chance to win £10,000 every month for 30 years. Set For Life takes place every Monday and Thursday, and costs £1.50 to play.
Our value game offers players the best chance to win £500,000 on a £1 National Lottery game. Thunderball takes place every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Our Lotto spin-off game offers players the chance to win up to £350,000 by picking and matching fewer Lotto HotPicks numbers against the main Lotto draw. Lotto HotPicks takes place every Wednesday and Saturday, and costs £1.00 to play.
Our EuroMillions spin-off game offers players the chance to win up to £1 million by picking and matching fewer EuroMillions HotPicks numbers against the main EuroMillions draw. EuroMillions HotPicks takes place every Tuesday and Friday, and costs £1.50 to play.
Our wide range of in-store Scratchcards offers players a choice of games ranging in price from £1 to £5. With a variety of play styles and top prizes of up to £2 million available, there’s something for everyone.
With prizes that never run out and prices ranging from 25 pence to £5, our huge variety of online Instant Win Games offers players the chance to win anything from a few pounds to a life-changing £100,000 a month for a year.
This achievement, combined with the fact that we’ve now delivered four years of successive sales growth, made us the best-performing European lottery operator in terms of growth in 2020 – as well as one of the top performers globally – and underlines our position as one of the world’s most successful and innovative lottery companies.
As a result, we generated £1,887.5 million for Good Causes over the period – including our best-ever returns to Good Causes from sales revenue alone. This represented an increase of £34.4 million on last year and is the equivalent of £36 million being generated every week – that’s £60 being raised every single second.
Our success in growing returns to Good Causes over the year couldn’t have come at a more important time – with this vital funding needed more than ever as the UK responds to, and rebuilds from, the enormous impact of the pandemic.
Combined with the Lottery Duty we paid to the government, which exceeded £1 billion for the first time in 2020/21, and the commission earned by our retail partners, we also delivered a record £3.1 billion to society over the year. Including prize money, we returned 95% of all sales revenue to winners and society last year – one of the highest percentages of lottery revenue given back in the world and clear evidence that we’re continuing to deliver for everyone in the UK.
Achieving record-breaking sales in such a turbulent year is the result of all of the groundwork we’ve laid over the last few years across our games, channels and brand. Thanks to the resilience afforded by these strong foundations – combined with our years of experience, innovative thinking and agility – we’ve had an extraordinary year across all areas of our business.
Our performance over the period was driven by our best-ever digital sales of £3,509.5 million – firmly cementing our place as the operator of the largest digital lottery in the world by revenue. And even though we experienced widespread lockdown disruption in our retail channel during the year, we continued to heavily support our 44,000 retail partners throughout and grew sales strongly over the second half of the year to achieve total in-store sales of £4,864.4 million.
We succeeded in growing sales of all six of our draw-based games in 2020/21 to £4,690.7 million, an increase of £153.6 million. The increase was primarily driven by our success in increasing Lotto sales, with November’s enhancement of an additional cash prize for players who match two main numbers in a ’Must Be Won’ Rolldown draw proving to be hugely popular.
Over 1.2 million players won the new boosted prize in the very first draw following the change – and millions of players have benefited in Rolldown draws ever since. As a result, we are one of only a few operators around the world to be growing sales of its flagship lotto game.
Set For Life also continues to grow in popularity and is exceeding sales expectations. In addition, after an exceptional sales performance in 2019/20, we grew sales of EuroMillions – albeit marginally – despite lower-than-usual ticket sales in some of the partner countries resulting in the jackpot not growing as quickly as it normally would from draw to draw.
Our Instants range of in-store Scratchcards and online Instant Win Games performed very strongly over the period too. As a result of improvements we made to offer players greater choice and the measures we put in place to make it straightforward for regular in-store Scratchcard players to try the equivalent Instant Win Games online during lockdown, we grew total Instants sales by £315.2 million to £3,683.2 million.
(Source: ’Britain’s Biggest Brands’, The Grocer/Nielsen – April 2021)
In what were extremely challenging high street conditions, the likes of which the UK had never seen before, we recorded in-store sales of £4,864.4 million in 2020/21. Although this was down on the previous year’s figure of £5,447.6 million, retail sales recovered strongly in the final six months of the financial year and are now almost back to pre-pandemic trading levels.
As a result, our retail partners earned £275.9 million in commission over the period, the equivalent of around £6,200 per store. This takes the total commission earned by retailers since The National Lottery’s launch to over £7.1 billion.
With around 44,000 outlets selling our products throughout the UK – and 94% of the UK adult population living or working within one mile of a National Lottery terminal – we’re ensuring that The National Lottery is convenient to play. But we don’t take this for granted and work hard to make sure that we continue to take account of the changing ways in which people are shopping.
For example, we’ve been looking at additional retail distribution channels to bring in new players by giving people even better access to The National Lottery in the stores where they’re shopping. As a result, we launched initiatives in Aldi and Iceland to drive impulse and convenience play, and therefore incremental sales.
These innovative rollouts mean that customers in both stores can now easily and conveniently pick up Lucky Dip tickets for The National Lottery’s range of draw-based games at the checkout when carrying out their food shopping.
We also made enhancements to our self-checkout offer in Asda – with talks with other major supermarkets ongoing – and rolled out National Lottery Scratchcards for home delivery with Asda.com and Tesco.com, and are now looking to introduce this through other major retailer websites.
We fundamentally believe that The National Lottery’s success is reliant on building and maintaining a healthy and balanced retail channel. Retailers continue to be the backbone of The National Lottery, and they’ve been vital in helping us to raise crucial funding for Good Causes at a time when it’s most needed.
We’re absolutely committed to continuing to support them in every way we can. That’s why we continue to invest heavily in retail, and have brought in new measures to support and make life easier for our retail partners, particularly the thousands of independent retailers having to endure and survive such difficult trading conditions.
Given the uncertainty they were facing at the start of the pandemic, we adapted our plans very quickly to support our retail partners, making their and their customers’ safety a priority – and did everything we could to help those stores that had to temporarily stop selling games or had to close because of Covid-19.
We used a range of channels to provide retailers with frequent, timely updates and important information. As part of this, we issued regular guidance to them on safe ways for their customers to play National Lottery games and claim prizes in store.
We also actively encouraged people to only buy tickets or claim prizes in retail in line with the relevant government guidance at the time, and postponed a series of big jackpot draws until restrictions had been lifted to ensure that people didn’t make unnecessary trips into stores to buy tickets.
We set up a virtual Contact Centre to serve both retailers and National Lottery players. Although our Retail Sales Team had to come off the road during lockdown, we set them up so that they could continue to provide phone and video support to retailers – with some of them also moving to our Retailer Hotline to help resolve any day-to-day queries.
Watford retailer Chirag Mehta (right) – proprietor of New Hollands News & Wine – was awarded a special National Lottery plaque by local South West Hertfordshire MP Gagan Mohindra (left) and Camelot CEO Nigel Railton (centre) to celebrate his store raising £1.1 million for Good Causes.
We continued to invest in tools such as our award-winning National Lottery Retailer Hub to help retailers make the very most of selling National Lottery products and in initiatives such as our popular ’Site, Stock, Sell’ retailer rewards programme, which helps retailers to improve their display and merchandising.
With ’Site, Stock, Sell’ visits put on hold because of Covid, we moved the scheme online during the summer to make it easier and safer for retailers to take part. And, in addition to offering one quarterly prize of £10,000, we added 10 prizes of £1,000 to give more retailers an opportunity to win a big reward.
We also boosted prize money for our retailer competitions and bonus events over the year to help small independent shops during the pandemic. In total, we awarded more than £530,000 in rewards to retailers in 2020/21 – money that we hope has helped to make a real difference to them.
And, with independent retailers being vitally important to the success of The National Lottery and providing an invaluable service to their local communities during these difficult times, we continued to celebrate their achievements by awarding special plaques to those who have raised significant sums of money for Good Causes.
Despite the unprecedented challenges they’ve had to deal with in such a turbulent year, by staying open and ensuring that Good Causes could continue to benefit throughout, our retail partners have played an extraordinary role in the national response to the pandemic.
Whether they’ve been a National Lottery retailer since launch back in 1994 or they’ve just joined our team this year, we are hugely grateful to each and every one of them for making The National Lottery what it is today. That’s why retail will always be a cornerstone of our strategy – and, just as our retailers have always been there for us, they can count on our continued support.
Ali Irtiza, owner of East End Convenience Store in Paisley, was the first winner of the quarterly £10,000 prize after we moved our ’Site, Stock, Sell’ retailer rewards programme online to make it easier and safer for retailers to take part.
As part of this exceptional performance, we succeeded in growing mobile sales over the period by £876.4 million to an all-time high of £2,481.9 million, with sales through smartphones and tablets now accounting for 70% of all digital sales. The majority of this growth was driven by The National Lottery’s iPhone and Android apps, which benefited from a series of enhancements that we introduced to improve the customer journey and give players an even more personalised experience.
These included a fully redesigned homepage and better signposting and navigation, as well as a new ’number picker’ function to make choosing their lucky numbers more fun and interactive for players. These ongoing improvements have resulted in really positive feedback from players, with both apps enjoying 4+ ratings.
Our success in surpassing the £3 billion sales mark in digital for the first time was built on increased participation. With Covid restrictions leading to increased demand for our well-established and user-friendly online channels, we succeeded in acquiring 2.7 million new online player registrations over the course of the year.
And thanks to years of significant investment in our digital channels to ensure that we had the capacity required to allow us to continue offering a first-class service to players as their needs changed, we were already in a great place to cope with this seismic shift in demand.
At the start of the pandemic, we adapted our plans very quickly to minimise its impact on National Lottery sales and to protect the vital flow of money to Good Causes. For example, we took decisive action at an early stage to update all of our advertising to prioritise the ability to play our games online or on mobiles, and to encourage players to only buy tickets and claim prizes in retail in line with government guidance.
Just as importantly, we made it easier for people who might traditionally play in retail to play online during lockdown. For example, we introduced a series of step-by-step ’how to’ videos, on subjects such as how to open an account and healthy play, to make it easier for players who had never played online before to do so. We also increased resources on our technical support helpline to help players with any queries and lowered our minimum deposit amount from £10 to £5 to ensure that people who just want to buy a ticket or two can play online if they prefer.
Even though it’s widely recognised that National Lottery games pose an extremely low risk of causing harm to players, healthy play continues to be a top priority for us – especially now that more people are playing National Lottery games online than ever before. We want all of them to have a positive and enjoyable experience within a safe environment.
Although online average weekly spend remained broadly consistent over the year, we continued to invest significantly in our online healthy play tools. For example, we continued to enhance and promote our ’DREAM BIG PLAY SMALL’ healthy play message and online portal, further embedding it across digital player journeys and more than doubling the number of online touchpoints where it appears.
We also increased the number of healthy play communications sent to all players, and continued to have personalised interactions with the very small number of players who showed signs of potentially unhealthy play.
Given the relentless pace of change in digital, we know that we can’t rest on our laurels following such an outstanding year. We want to build on our position as a world-leading digital lottery operator and deliver even more for our players – and will continue to invest and innovate to ensure that playing National Lottery games online is as easy, enjoyable and safe as possible.
And, working closely with the wider National Lottery family – especially the National Lottery Distributors, who play an instrumental role in getting the funding to the people and projects who need it most – we’ve made excellent progress in making The National Lottery brand more relevant and visible, and in better connecting The National Lottery’s unique purpose with play.
Back in the spring of 2020, we were able to very quickly create advertising, which used user-generated content from Good Cause beneficiaries thanking players for their enormous contribution, to support both the initial £300 million National Lottery Community Fund Covid-relief package, as well as the overall £600 million response to the crisis from National Lottery Distributors – a figure that has now doubled to more than £1.2 billion.
In September, we launched an extensive, multi-channel campaign to highlight the huge range of projects supported by the £30 million-plus raised for Good Causes every week by National Lottery players. Working with The National Lottery Community Fund, Arts Council England and Sport England, the campaign underlined just what can be achieved with this vast weekly sum of money – from funding 20,000 community football teams or supporting 30,000 veterans to helping 900 local library projects or training 1,000 new assistance dogs.
The campaign was supported by a cross-Distributor initiative – ’Celebrating the Dedicated’ – which focused on passionate but previously unheralded individuals across the UK who have responded to the challenges of the pandemic and are making a real difference in their communities.
And in November, we announced ’Miss Out To Help Out’, an innovative partnership between The National Lottery, The National Lottery Community Fund, ITV and STV. The initiative shone on a spotlight on people who give up their time to help others, and encouraged members of the public to miss out on their favourite TV shows and to use that time to help out in their community instead.
The National Lottery also offered support directly to a number of organisations affected by Covid. These included initiatives to help lower league football in all four nations, the LTA’s Wheelchair World-Class Programme, and women’s and girls’ rugby league. It also worked with theatre producers to enable socially distanced pantomimes to take place – and hosted a one-off special show at the London Palladium in December to thank key workers and their families, an event that was attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
In addition, it joined forces with three of ITV’s biggest shows in a wide-ranging sponsorship deal that has put The National Lottery firmly at the heart of Saturday night entertainment.
All of the activity that we’ve been carrying out in partnership with the wider National Lottery family is delivering results – with The National Lottery’s brand positivity scores consistently at their highest levels on record and driving even greater player participation. The National Lottery was also ranked in second place in the Improvers List in YouGov’s Best Brand Rankings 2020, just missing out to Netflix on the top spot.