Camelot sold to Canadian pension fund

Cash cow Camelot, operator of the state-sponsored fleecing that is the National Lottery, has flogged itself off for £400 million.

The business is straightforward sysadmin job. Keep the till machines functioning and the pound coins roll in, as do the fivers and tenners of the increasingly desperate.

Just a year into its third ten-year lottery licence, Camelot's joint owners - or four out of five of them - were getting bored and wanted out.

Co-conspiritors in the shape of chocolate maker Cadbury, printer of money De La Rue, arms manufacturer Thales and tech giant Fujitsu, put their shares in the business up for sale almost a year ago. A reluctant fifth firm - the Royal Mail - caved in eventually.

The proud new owner is the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (OTPP), which beat off private equity firm CVC Capital Partners in a bid faced up by former Olympic rower Sir Matthew Pinsent.

Ownership of the firm which runs the Lottery has been a sore topic for British people from the start.

Bearded fancied bidder, self-popularist Richard Branson, was libelled by rival GTech in the bun-fight that was the auction for the initial licence some twenty years ago.

By order of the Government, the weekly flutter benefits from weekly TV adverts on the otherwise advertising-free BBC channels, under the pretext of raising money for 'good causes'.