The National Lottery in the time of Covid-19

How to protect a national institution during the coronavirus crisis.

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The implications of Covid-19 have thrown up incredible challenges for businesses – and that has not been any different for us at Camelot. We have had to move quickly and adapt to an ever-changing situation, while continuing to meet our licence and integrity obligations. The pandemic hit us earlier than many when one of our employees was diagnosed with Covid-19 in early March. Thankfully, they made a full recovery, but it meant immediately closing our head office. The vast majority of our workforce has been working from home ever since.

While we have had to drastically change the way our business operates, we have also seen this as an opportunity to make changes for the better. Through the strong foundations laid over the past three years and a dynamic approach, we have been able to meet this challenge.

National Lottery players raise over £30m every week for good causes, funding for communities, sports clubs, museums and heritage sites in every corner of the UK. This has never been more important than it is now, with National Lottery distributors committing up to £600m of funding to UK charities and organisations to help tackle the impact of Covid-19.

Our response to the pandemic was designed to not only preserve this funding, but to protect our employees, 44,000 retail partners, and our players. Many employees already had the ability to work remotely, but we needed to equip all of our Contact Centre advisers with the right tools to do their job from home – and have been operating a fully functional “virtual Contact Centre” since March. For those who have to be on site through necessity for their role – such as those operating the National Lottery draws and in our Distribution Centre – we have implemented detailed social distancing procedures to protect them.

Retail – which normally makes up around 70 per cent of National Lottery ticket sales – has continued to be incredibly important to us. Although we took our retail representatives off the road during lockdown, the team has continued to work closely with our retailers throughout the period to maximise safety – including encouraging players to only buy tickets in retail if they were already in store doing an essential shop, and providing guidance on the safest ways to claim prizes while minimising contact.

We have seen a significant increase in downloads of the National Lottery app and traffic to our online channels, and have been continuously focused on making our well-established responsible play tools the best they can be. As the initial crisis recedes, some customers will return to their former routines, while many will continue to play online. Whatever happens, we remain committed to our longstanding approach of lots of people playing a little.

Covid-19 has taught us lessons as a business and as a society. It has strengthened my belief that the National Lottery is a powerful force for good and I am determined to continue to spread this message far and wide.

Nigel Railton is CEO of Camelot.

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