NATIONAL Lottery operator Camelot has issued High Court proceedings against the Gambling Commission, over its decision to hand the next lottery licence to Allwyn Entertainment.
Camelot missed out on the fourth lottery licence, following a competition process which launched in August 2020 and comprised four bidders. The National Lottery has been operated by Camelot since the first draw in 1994.
If the Gambling Commission’s decision is upheld, Allwyn Entertainment will take control of the UK’s National Lottery and all associated products from 1 February 2024, on a ten-year licence. Allwyn Entertainment runs lotteries across Europe. The firm’s key markets are Austria, the Czech Republic, Greece and Cyprus, and Italy.
In a statement, Camelot chief executive Nigel Railton, said: “We are launching a legal challenge today in our capacity as an applicant for the Fourth Licence because we firmly believe that the Gambling Commission has got this decision badly wrong. When we received the result, we were shocked by aspects of the decision.
“Despite lengthy correspondence, the Commission has failed to provide a satisfactory response. We are therefore left with no choice but to ask the court to establish what happened.
“Irrespective of Camelot’s dual roles as current operator and applicant for the next National Lottery licence, the competition is one of the largest UK government-sponsored procurements and the process deserves independent scrutiny.
“Separately, more than 1,000 Camelot employees work tirelessly to successfully operate The National Lottery under the current licence and, at the very least, they are owed a proper explanation.”
In its own statement, the Gambling Commission said the selection of Allwyn Entertainment followed a “fair, open and robust competition.”
The Gambling Commission said: “We are confident that we have run a fair and robust competition. We have taken every step possible to ensure a level playing field for all interested parties, to enable us to appoint a licensee who will engage and protect players, run the National Lottery with integrity and ensure the National Lottery continues to support good causes and their contribution to society.
“Our priority is to continue to work to implement our decision and ensure a seamless and timely transition to the next licence, for the benefit of participants and good causes. These proceedings will not help that but we trust that Camelot will honour its obligations as the current licensee to cooperate in that transition, and we will continue to use the tools available to us to facilitate that process.”