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The Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN) has reacted angrily to suggestions that the National Lottery needs to be “dragged into the digital age”.

Responding to comments made by Sir Keith Mills in a recent interview with the Financial Times, NFRN National President Stuart Reddish said: “Since its launch, the National Lottery has been about supporting local communities, and thousands of local news and convenience stores up and down the country have worked hard to provide access to the draws and scratch cards to those who want to have a flutter while supporting good causes.

“Taking the Lottery online makes no sense at a time when the British public have been rediscovering the benefits of shopping at their local convenience stores. The proposals would amount to major kick in the teeth for the very community retailers who, over the last 27 years, have made the Lottery the success it is.”

Sir Keith Mills is chairman of Czech company Sazka, which is bidding for the fourth National Lottery licence when Camelot’s current 14-year term ends in 2023.

He claimed the money raised for good causes has plateaued and said he worried that “unless the National Lottery is reinvigorated it will go into a decline”.

Camelot, which has run the National Lottery since its inception in 1994, has disputed this, noting that it runs Europe’s largest online lottery by revenue. Since a restructuring in 2014 it has increased contributions to good causes by 14 per cent.

Mr Reddish added: “From Sir Keith’s comments, it sadly appears that Sazka sees the National Lottery as global gambling money spinner, supported by big business and investment companies and distant from the players, retailers and communities that it is supposed to support.

“The NFRN welcomes dialogue with anyone wishing to bid for the Lottery. We represent a large number of outlets, so anyone bidding for the new licence will need to work with us.”

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