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Gates Joins Branson in Lottery Bid

February 6, 2000

LONDON (AP) _ Bill Gates said Sunday that his Microsoft Corp. has signed up to provide the technology if Virgin Airlines owner Richard Branson succeeds in his bid to run Britain’s highly successful national lottery.

In an interview on BBC, Gates said cutting-edge computer technology _ particularly greater use of the Internet _ could broaden the appeal of the national lottery,

``You need to ask, is there not an approach which can cost a lot less money and can be a richer experience for the people who want to use it, so that’s part of the vision,″ Gates said in a joint interview with Branson.

Gates said he had no qualms about promoting gambling.

``If people are going to gamble, shouldn’t you make sure the money generated goes to good causes?″ he asked.

The Virgin boss has pledged to run the lottery on a nonprofit basis, throwing a far larger percentage of proceeds into prizes and charitable causes than the current operators do. He said his bid could draw millions of new players into the game.

The license held by the current lottery operators expires next year. Bids for the new license, which will run for seven years, must be registered with the National Lottery Commission by the end of this month. A winner is expected to be chosen by the end of June.

Seven companies are understood to have expressed an interest so far, including the current license-holder, Camelot. But Camelot has been criticized for paying high salaries and bonuses to members of its board. Shareholder companies also have drawn fire for making large profits off the game.

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