Camelot withdraws block on National Lottery transition, but questions remain

Camelot says it will now cooperate with the transition.
Camelot says it will now cooperate with the transition.

The operator has withdrawn its objection, but it’s not yet clear if the Gambling Commission can proceed with the transition.

UK.- The Gambling Commission may finally be able to start the process to hand the British National Lottery to Allwyn. Camelot, which has operated the National Lottery since it began in 1994, has dropped its attempt to block the process, but there may still be one obstacle.

The Gambling Commission has confirmed that Camelot Group has withdrawn its appeal against the enabling rights granted to Allwyn, the winner of the tender to run the National Lottery from 2024. However, it says it hasn’t yet been informed of any changes to the position of IGT, Camelot’s technology provider, which is also challenging the result.

Camelot UK and IGT Plc were quick to lodge a high Court challenge when the regulator announced its decision to award the fourth National Lottery licence to Allwyn. The Gambling Commission argued that the transition process needed to begin regardless in order to be ready for when Camelot’s licence ends in February 2024.

However, on June 29, Court of Appeal ruled in their favour, suspending the enabling rights that allowed the transition to Allwyn to begin. Camelot has now withdrawn its appeal, with Allwyn waiving claims to costs and damages against Camelot in response.

Camelot, which is owned by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, said: “By pursuing the opportunity to be awarded the fourth licence, Camelot has sought to limit the risk that Good Causes or the Exchequer would have to meet damages if the licence award was found by a Court to have been unlawful.

“However, it has become clear that the potential damages covered by the undertakings needed for the appeal to proceed would have been too large, and involved too great a commercial risk, for it to be reasonable to provide them”.

“Camelot is no longer seeking to prevent the enabling agreement being signed prior to the procurement trial which will now take place in January/February.”

Allwyn said: “Allwyn welcomes this decision and looks forward to cooperating with Camelot and the Gambling Commission on the transition process. Allwyn is excited at the prospect of becoming the custodian of Europe’s biggest lottery.”

However, with no change of heart from IGT, it would seem that the legal challenge still stands, with the High Court of England and Wales to begin hearings in a few days.

There had been fears that the UK National Lottery could face a pause in activity due to Camelot’s legal challenge against the Gambling Commission’s decision to award the next licence to Allwyn. The Gambling Commission had also estimated the legal challenge could drain over £1bn from National Lottery good causes funding.

Allwyn CEO Robert Chvatal has laid out the Czech giant’s plans for the National Lottery for when it takes over in February 2024. Speaking to The Times, Chvatal said Allwyn would modernise the lottery through the right combination of brand, games and “the best technology”.

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