|The government has ruled that the next licence to run the National Lottery can last 15 years, more than double its current length.|
The news waves the green flag on the bidding war for control of the world's most successful betting game.
The biggest bookmakers are almost certain to enter the competition following the government's announcement.
The government last Friday gave the National Lottery Commission the power to issue a single licence for the distribution of the lottery products including the main game, scratchcards, mobile phones and the internet - for up to 15 years.
It amounts to a U-turn by Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell who previously wanted to break it up into three parts.
This weekend Camelot, the National Lottery operator, said: 'The government's policy position is likely to deliver a very robust competition for the next lottery licence - something Camelot Group has always advocated and warmly welcomes.'