Allwyn set to receive National Lottery licence as High Court lifts handover suspension

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Lottery giant Allwyn looks set to receive the fourth National Lottery licence in the UK after the High Court lifted a suspension on the Gambling Commission’s ability to award the licence.

In March, the regulator announced Allwyn as its preferred applicant for the fourth National Lottery licence, following a tender process which began in 2020. 

The competition saw incumbent operator Camelot pitted against Italian lottery operator Sisal and Indian operator Sugal & Damani in addition to Allwyn, previously known as Sazka Group.

After the Gambling Commission announced Allwyn as its preferred applicant in March, however, the regulator received legal proceedings from Camelot as CEO Nigel Railton claimed it had “got this decision badly wrong.”

As a result, an automatic suspension was placed on the Gambling Commission’s ability to award the fourth National Lottery licence to Allwyn.

Today, after the Gambling Commission made a formal request last month, the UK’s High Court agreed to lift the suspension.

Gambling Commission: “We remain resolute that we have run a fair and robust competition, and that our evaluation has been carried out fairly and lawfully in accordance with our statutory duties.”

The Gambling Commission said it will therefore now “begin the important work of formally awarding the licence to Allwyn.”

The regulator added that it will also prepare for trial of the various claims brought against it by Camelot. 

“We remain resolute that we have run a fair and robust competition, and that our evaluation has been carried out fairly and lawfully in accordance with our statutory duties,” the Commission said.

“We have taken every step possible to ensure a level playing field for all interested parties, to enable us to appoint a licensee who will engage and protect players, run the National Lottery with integrity and ensure the National Lottery maximises support for good causes and its contribution to society through further innovation and investment.”

Allwyn celebrated the decision today, describing the ruling as “good news for the National Lottery.” 

Allwyn: “We look forward to the Gambling Commission moving to award and to Camelot working constructively with us to ensure a smooth handover for the benefit of players and good causes alike.”

The operator added that: “[High Court Justice Finola O’Farrell’s] decision paves the way for the transition to Allwyn, the winner of the fourth licence competition, serving The National Lottery as its operator from February 2024; kickstarting a transformation programme that brings an enhanced games portfolio, new technologies, provisions for safer play, and a substantial increase in returns to good causes.

“We look forward to the Gambling Commission moving to Award and to Camelot working constructively with us to ensure a smooth handover for the benefit of players and good causes alike,” it concluded.

Camelot, meanwhile, appeared less prepared to admit defeat. A spokesperson for the operator said: “While disappointing, this judgement only addresses whether or not the Enabling Agreement can be signed while our case is heard. 

“The judgement on whether the Gambling Commission correctly and lawfully awarded Preferred Applicant status is being dealt with separately. We will take some time to consider our next steps and continue to believe that we have a very strong legal case. 

“In the meantime, we remain dedicated to maximising returns to good causes, building on our record performance over the past two years.”

If and when the fourth licence is awarded to Allwyn, the rival operators will be expected to cooperate in order to ensure a smooth handover in time for 2024.

About the author

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Conor Mulheir

Conor entered the gaming industry in 2018 producing high-level live event content for audiences in London, Amsterdam and São Paulo. From 2020, he went on to report news and commission exclusive content for various gaming media brands before joining iGaming NEXT as editor in January 2022.

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