Dame Dianne Thompson is pushing for the start of the transfer process to be delayed as Camelot takes legal action against the regulator’s tender decision.
UK.- With the losing bidders for the next licence to run the UK’s National Lottery pursuing legal action in the High Court, Camelot, the current operator, has urged the Gambling Commission the delay the transfer of the lottery to the tender’s victor Allwyn.
The Gambling Commission has named Czech-based lottery giant Allwyn, formerly Sazka, as its preferred bidder for the next National Lottery licence, which is due to start in February 2024. When Allwyn takes the helm, it will be the first time since the lottery’s inception in 1994 that it’s been run by anyone other than Camelot.
However, Camelot almost immediately announced that it would mount a legal challenge against the Gambling Commission’s decision to award the tender to Allwyn. Since then, the other contenders, Sisal and Nothern & Shell, have also announced they will take legal action.
Dame Dianne Thompson, the former boss of Camelot, has urged the Gambling Commission to delay the transfer of the firm’s licence. The Mail on Sunday has reported that in a letter to the Gambling Commission, she argued that a legal fight would drain resources from the good causes that the lottery funds.
She wrote “The transition timeline would remain unaltered, the legal case could be properly heard and – critically – any risk of a massive bill for good causes would be removed at a stroke.
“I fully understand the Commission’s enthusiasm for ensuring that their preferred applicant has as much time as possible to enact a successful transition. Transition is a complex and risky process – as I know only too well – that will clearly not benefit from a truncated timeline.”
She added: “I’m equally sure that no one – least of all the Gambling Commission – would wish to risk taking up to one billion pounds from good causes, particularly during a cost of living crisis.”
National Lottery funding for good causes fell to £491.3m in Q4, down from £551.3m in the same quarter in 2021, due to a drop in sales, mainly of EuroMillions tickets.
The first legal hearing is due to go ahead this week. There are fears that a lengthy legal battle could drag on until the expiration of Camelot’s current licence in February 2024.
Camelot claims the Gambling Commission removed a 15 per cent risk factor weighting originally used in its assessment. It also says the regulator failed to scrutinise Allwyn’s claims about how much money it will give to good causes.