The Czech operator has hit media headlines in the UK over its appointment of the consultancy Flint Global.
UK.- The Czech Republic’s SAZKA Group has come under the spotlight in UK media after it hired Flint Global, a London-based public affairs consultancy, as a “special advisor” in advance of its potential bid to run the UK National Lottery.
The controversy revolves around the presence of Dame Sue Owen as a specialist partner on the consultancy’s leadership team.
Until April 2019, Dame Owen was Permanent Secretary at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the government department responsible for overseeing the bidding process for the National Lottery.
Rules established by the government’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) state that senior civil servants cannot work or advise companies on departmental policy for at least two years after leaving the civil service.
Flint Global was co-founded by former British diplomat Sir Simon Fraser and former Ofcom CEO Ed Richards. It has responded that it is aware of the ACOBA rules and that Dame Sue will not play a role in SAZKA’s National Lottery bid.
SAZKA itself has repeated that it has not yet committed to making a bid for the National Lottery.
The operator told Sky News: “Whilst we consider whether we will formally enter a bid, we are in communication with the UK’s Gambling Commission regarding the process and are working with various companies and advisors (of which we can confirm Flint is one).”
The UK National Lottery has been operated by Camelot Group for 25 years. The current licence is up for renewal in July 2023, with a decision on the operator likely to be made next year.
The DCMS announced in May that the tender for the National Lottery licence renewal had been put back by six months. SAZKA and the other main contender, Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell, criticised the delay.