Allwyn wins contest to run UK National Lottery

Allwyn rebranded its entire business from Sazka earlier this year.
Allwyn rebranded its entire business from Sazka earlier this year.

The Gambling Commission has chosen Allwyn Entertainment as its preferred applicant for the fourth National Lottery licence.

UK.- After delaying its decision by several months, Britain’s Gambling Commission has chosen Allwyn Entertainment as its preferred applicant to win the next UK National Lottery licence. It will be the first time that anyone other than Camelot has run the National Lottery since it started in 1994.

Allwyn is the new name for the Czech lottery giant formerly known as Sazka. The company has operations throughout Europe, particularly in the Czech Republic, Austria, Greece (OPAP) and Italy ( Lotto Gioco). But it plans to expand internationally, having announced plans for a New York listing.

The fourth National Lottery licence period will begin in February 2024 after a 22-month transition period to allow operations to pass from Camelot to Allwyn. The process now enters a legal standstill period of 10-days .

Camelot has run the National Lottery since its inception in 1994, winning two retenders along the way. The other competitors in the tender for the fourth licence period were Italy’s Sisal, which is being acquired by Flutter, and Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell. India’s Sugal & Damani had expressed an interest but didn’t advance to the final stage.

Allwyn’s victory disproves rumours that the Gambling Commission had already chosen to award the licence to Camelot for the fourth time. The Gambling Commission said it had selected the best partner through an “open and robust competition” that attracted the highest number of bidders since the first National Lottery tender.

Gambling Commission chief executive officer Andrew Rhodes said: “In its lifetime, the National Lottery has raised more than £45bn for good causes and is rightly seen as a great national asset.

“I am confident that the success of the competition will lead to a highly successful fourth licence – one that maximises returns to good causes, promotes innovation, delivers against our statutory duties and which ultimately protects the unique status of the National Lottery.

“We look forward to working with all parties to ensure a smooth handover.”

Allwyn company founder Karel Komárek said: “We welcome today’s statement by the Gambling Commission that we have been selected as the preferred applicant for the fourth National Lottery licence.

“Our proposal was judged to be the best way of growing returns to good causes by revitalising The National Lottery in a safe and sustainable way.

“The appointment of Allwyn will breathe fresh life into the National Lottery. In Allwyn, the Gambling Commission has selected a strong team with an impressive track record of improving lotteries. We will immediately work to deliver our comprehensive transition plan and look forward to transforming the National Lottery, making it better for everyone.”

Meanwhile Camelot has been named as the Gambling Commission’s “reserve applicant”.

CEO Nigel Railton said: “We are now carefully reviewing the Gambling Commission’s evaluation before deciding on our next steps. I’m incredibly disappointed by today’s announcement, but we still have a critical job to do – as our current licence runs until February 2024.

“I’m enormously grateful to our 1,000-plus employees who have been unwavering in delivering record-breaking results during the current licence. And I know they remain absolutely determined to build on our four and a half years of successive sales growth – which has seen us achieve record sales in each of the last two years, resulting in the best-ever returns to good causes from ticket sales last year.”

Allwyn’s plans to transform the UK National Lottery 

Led by Sir Keith Mills, Allwyn’s bid promoted a new vision of the National Lottery that promises innovation in both products and channels and increased contributions to good causes. It’s also reported to be considering reducing ticket prices. 

Mills said: “The National Lottery is a national treasure and we are honoured to have been chosen as its future custodian. With the Gambling Commission having put its trust in us, we can immediately start to enact our exciting plans to deliver the National Lottery back to the heart of our country. 

“We will do this by rekindling the meaning the National Lottery has for each of us, whether as individuals or as part of the communities we live in; whether we play the National Lottery or not.”

Allwyn says it will share best practice in lottery operations and focus on improvement of draw-based games. It also noted that the licence decision will be welcomed by other companies in continental Europe “who are considering investment in post-Brexit Britain”.

Last month, Allwyn said that former Sainsbury’s Plc CEO Sir Justin King would serve as chairman of its UK business if it won the National Lottery competition.

King said: “The Gambling Commission has run a lengthy and detailed process, and I’ve been extremely impressed by the attention they have paid to the challenges facing the National Lottery over the coming decades. 

“The National Lottery is a vital British institution and we’re focused on ensuring it plays an even bigger part in society by increasing participation, improving safeguards, and giving back more to good causes.”

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