National Lottery: not in it to win it.

Have the recent changes to Lotto left their aspirational customers behind?

For anyone turning on their TV this past Saturday evening there was a potential shock in store as ball number 53 rolled out the National Lottery’s Lotto machine. Cries of horror shooting up across the country would have been understandable but this was neither fix nor fakery: for the first time in the game’s 21 year history, the odds had changed. Where players had been in with a 1 in 14 million shot at the big time, they now faced the even more daunting 1 in 45 million chance. Although, as ever, with greater risk comes greater reward, and the jackpot has climbed upwards accordingly.

Unsurprisingly, nobody won the £5,279,697 jackpot this week. And despite the National Lottery’s operator Camelot claiming that the recent changes not only reinvigorate the game but actually improve players’ chances of winning in one form or another, they gave an insight into their potential concerns in stating they firmly believed users would ‘stay with the game’. Many existing players have furiously hit out at the changes over social media with complaints and talk of boycotts, insinuating the £2 ticket is now a con and begging the question: in Camelot’s attempt to revive the declining sales and interest in the game, have they alienated their consistent players and overestimated the limits of their blind ambition? Ultimately, any brand that provokes such a reaction from its customers has surely lost its way, but even more so in a sector that is meant to be about ambition, hope and excitement.

Camelot spoke of this move as innovation for the game, as a way of ensuring players continued to dream. Perhaps the reaction from existing users would suggest this isn’t sufficient change, that the bar for innovation that genuinely captures the public’s imagination has not been cleared. After all, these changes should be so gripping, so captivating that the faithful followers are left clamouring to get their hands on tickets for the impending draw, madly scribbling to mark their chosen numbers. Adding 10 additional numbers was never likely to have this effect but I highly doubt Camelot would have predicted the alterations would actually damage the Lotto brand. Yet, going on the testimonials posted online this weekend, that is exactly what they have achieved.

The backlash from this uninspiring attempt to revive a brand that once fuelled swathes of the nation’s hopes for social mobility and dreams of opulence, highlights the need for genuine innovation and an understanding of the customers you have. For many, this isn’t merely a question of the goal posts being moved, it’s a case of the very balls of the game being changed.


Thomas Holliday