Gambling Commission seeks to guarantee National Lottery handover to Allwyn

Camelot has launched a legal challenge against the decision to grant the licence to Allwyn.
Camelot has launched a legal challenge against the decision to grant the licence to Allwyn.

The regulator has raised concerns in court amid fears that the National Lottery could be suspended pending the resolution of legal challenges from losing bidders.

UK.- Concerns are mounting that legal challenges against the Gambling Commission’s decision to award the next UK National Lottery licence to Allwyn could lead to the lottery being suspended for a time. The regulator is seeking to overturn a legal constraint preventing it from entering an enabling agreement with the Czech operator to begin the transfer process.

The Gambling Commission has chosen Allwyn as its prefered bidder to run the National lottery from February 1, 2024. It would be the first time that anyone other than Camelot has run the lottery, which began in 1994, but Camelot has mounted a legal challenge to the Gambling Commission’s decision, apparently arguing that it shouldn’t be allowed to lose.

The Gambling Commission’s John Tanner, who was senior responsible officer for the National Lottery tender, told the High Court of England and Wales that the regulator feared proceedings may leave “insufficient implementation time” for Allwyn to take over the contract.

He wants a guarantee that Camelot will fulfil its duties to hand over the reins of the lottery regardless of its legal appeal against the result of the licence tender, telling the court that the process must begin by “June or July at the latest”.

He said that otherwise there is a “real risk that there will be a period when the National Lottery does not operate at all” for the first time in its 28-year-history.

Camelot has called on the Gambling Commission to explain its decision to award the licence to Allwyn, arguing that it scored highest in key areas of the competition. It believes that the regulator “changed the rules” by dropping a risk factor score.

Meanwhile, Allwyn Group has finished its global rebranding from its former name, Sazka. The company announced the rebranding at the end of 2021. The Allwyn name was initially used only for the UK-facing unit of the business as it developed its bid for the National Lottery, but it was then rolled out to replace the Sazka name, reflecting the company’s aims to expand internationally.

In January, the board of Allwyn confirmed that it was seeking a NYSE listing through a SPAC merger with Cohn Robbins Holdings Corp (CRHC), run by former Goldman Sachs COO and President Trump advisor Gary Cohn. CRHC has yet to provide details, but it’s expected that Allwyn will target a $9.2bn+ valuation.

See also: UK gambling reforms expected to be “watered down”

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