Camelot launches High Court case against Gambling Commission over National Lottery licence award

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Camelot has initiated High Court proceedings against the Gambling Commission after being overlooked for the new National Lottery licence tender.

The British regulator last month selected Czech company Allwyn as its preferred bidder for the new lottery contract, which will come into force from 2024.

Camelot, which is owned by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, has run the UK National Lottery ever since the competition was created in 1994.

At the time, Camelot CEO Nigel Railton said he was incredibly disappointed with the decision and that the company would evaluate which steps to take next.

The business, which is headquartered in Watford, UK, has now decided on those next steps by kickstarting High Court proceedings to challenge the licence award.

In a new statement issued today, Railton said: “We are launching a legal challenge today in our capacity as an applicant for the fourth licence because we firmly believe that the Gambling Commission has got this decision badly wrong.”

Camelot CEO Nigel Railton: “We are launching a legal challenge today in our capacity as an applicant for the fourth licence because we firmly believe the Commission has got this decision badly wrong.”

According to The Times, Allwyn was deemed to have an inferior business plan but managed to beat Camelot by pledging to deliver a much higher amount to good causes.

The broadsheet said Allwyn’s bid was based on a forecast that it would raise £38bn over the 10-year licence that starts in 2024. This is believed to be a much higher figure than the forecast given by Camelot, which since 1994 has raised £45bn for good causes.

Experts told the newspaper that Camelot’s bid had both a stronger business plan and a more realistic financial forecast.

Railton added: “When we received the result, we were shocked by aspects of the decision. Despite lengthy correspondence, the Commission has failed to provide a satisfactory response. We are therefore left with no choice but to ask the court to establish what happened.

“Irrespective of Camelot’s dual roles as current operator and applicant for the next National Lottery licence, the competition is one of the largest UK government-sponsored procurements and the process deserves independent scrutiny.

“Separately, more than 1,000 Camelot employees work tirelessly to successfully operate the National Lottery under the current licence and, at the very least, they are owed a proper explanation,” he added.

The Allwyn bid was led by Sir Keith Mills, the mastermind behind London’s successful 2012 Olympics bid and Justin King, the former chief executive of supermarket giant Sainsbury’s.

Allwyn – which is owned by Czech billionaire Karel Komarek and was formerly known as Sazka – is aiming to list on the New York Stock exchange in Q2 2022 via a SPAC merger with Cohn Robbins Holdings Corp.

The listing will value the company at $9.3bn.

Gambling Commission: “Our priority is to continue to work to implement our decision and ensure a seamless and timely transition to the next licence, for the benefit of participants and good causes. These proceedings will not help that.”

Commenting on the legal action lodged by Camelot, the Gambling Commission said: “We regret Camelot’s decision to bring legal proceedings following the outcome of a highly successful competition for the fourth National Lottery licence.

“The competition and our evaluation have been carried out fairly and lawfully in accordance with our statutory duties, and we are confident that a court would come to that conclusion.

“We are confident that we have run a fair and robust competition. 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 continues to support good causes and their contribution to society.

“Our priority is to continue to work to implement our decision and ensure a seamless and timely transition to the next licence, for the benefit of participants and good causes. These proceedings will not help that, but we trust that Camelot will honour its obligations as the current licensee to cooperate in that transition, and we will continue to use the tools available to us to facilitate that process.”

About the author

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Jake Evans

Jake Evans is an NCTJ-accredited journalist and editor who has covered the online gaming and sports betting industry since 2017. He is the managing editor of iGaming NEXT and has previously worked in both content and data for EGR, Stats Perform and Football Radar.

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