National Lottery annual sales hit record £7.5 billion
National Lottery annual sales have hit a record £7.5 billion, despite controversial changes that significantly decreased the chances of winning the Lotto jackpot.
Operator Camelot said overall sales for 2015/16 were up £317 million on the previous year, although sales of draw-based games were down £6.2 million to £4.6 billion.
Lotto sales had a "great year", Camelot said, following changes in October that increased the number of balls from 49 to 59, but also introduced a new "Millionaire Raffle" per draw.
Camelot assured players at the time that the changes enhanced the game, although this was met with widespread scepticism when experts pointed out that the chance of winning the jackpot had decreased from one in 14 million to one in 45 million.
Returns to Good Causes have now topped £35 billion since the lottery's launch in 1994.
Camelot said the "marginal" decline in sales for draw-based games was mainly related to EuroMillions, which only offered three draws with jackpots of more than £100 million in 2015/16 compared with six the previous year.
The operator said "impressive" digital growth saw sales through smartphones and tablets soar by 53%, with smartphone figures seeing a 71% year-on-year increase.
Sales were also buoyed by growth across the National Lottery's GameStore range of online and in-store instant play games.
Camelot chief executive Andy Duncan said: "I'm delighted by the fantastic year we've had - especially across our digital channels. With our own world-leading mobile platform and over eight million registered online players, Camelot leads the field of digital lottery innovation.
"To build on the year's outstanding performance, we've got some really exciting plans lined up - starting with Rio, where the National Lottery is supporting our elite athletes in their quest for gold."
Camelot said Good Causes and players shared a record £6 billion of the total sales figure.
Camelot later said Lotto sales in the second half of 2015/16 - after the changes came into effect - were up 14% on the first half.
Lotto had created more than 100 millionaires in the last six months and awarded more in prizes to players, while also delivering over £450 million more for Good Causes because of the 2013 and 2015 changes to the game, a spokeswoman added.