Another contender launches legal challenge against UK National Lottery decision

Northern & Shell is taking the Gambling Commission to court over the National Lottery tender.
Northern & Shell is taking the Gambling Commission to court over the National Lottery tender.

First Camelot and IGT, now Northern & Shell is also seeking to challenge the decision to give the lottery to Allwyn.

UK.- The lawsuits are piling up after the Gambling Commission’s decision to award the next UK National Lottery licence to the Czech gaming giant Allwyn.

Camelot, which has run the lottery since it began in 1994, was quick off the bat to announce that it would be lodging a complaint with the High Court. But now media mogul Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell, the quietest of the four bidders during the tender process, has also launched a challenge.

Northern & Shell has competed unsuccessfully against Camelot for the National Lottery licence in the past. This time around, in the tender process for the fourth licence to start in 2024, it was publicly very quiet about its involvement while fellow applicants Allwyn and Italy’s Sisal announced high-profile hires and ambitious plans for a renewal of the lottery. There are no publicly available details on its proposal.

However, it’s not remaining so quiet now. The company, which owns the Health Lottery along with a subsidiary, New Lottery Company, has taken legal action against the Gambling Commission. It’s being represented by law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner.

It seems that finally all the losing contenders could go to court. In Camelot’s challenge, it’s asking for a review of the Gambling Commission’s handling of the process claiming it breached its own rules. Its bidding partner, the gambling tech business IGT, has also filed a lawsuit. Meanwhile, according to the Sunday Telegraph, the remaining bidder, Sisal, which has been bought by Flutter, is considering joining Camelot’s action.

The Gambling Commission chose Allwyn, the lottery giant founded by Czech billionaire Karel Komarek, as its preferred bidder for the ten-year licence last month. The company has pledged to revitalise the lottery and slash ticket prices.

Camelot, which is owned by the Ontario teachers’ pension fund, made £730m from the National Lottery in the year ending March 2021, with revenues of £8.4bn generated from almost 10 million players.

Meanwhile, the Gambling Commission has come under fire in the press for awarding itself £155m from National Lottery ticket sales to cover the costs of the tender for the lottery’s next licence.

The Daily Mail has blasted the British regulator and accused it of making “a raid” on National Lottery funds to cover its admin costs, which were £50m over budget. The newspaper said the money should have been used “to support cash-starved charities and community groups”.

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