A story published this week by the Evening Standard poses new questions about National Lottery operator Camelot, with allegations that it has come under scrutiny from MPs in the UK Government. Politicians are reported as having claimed that the group is attempting to ‘conflate its role’ as an operator with the National Lottery when it comes to good causes.
MPs say the operator has taken out advertisements in The House Magazine, available to only MPs and Westminster staff, and put its own branding ahead of the lottery, which is supposed to back good causes.
Richard Holden MP and Carolyn Harris MP, who both sit on the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm, are said to have written to the UK Gambling Commission on the subject.
As quoted by the Evening Standard, the letter says: “We have noticed there have been numerous instances when Camelot has announced initiatives that appear to conflate its role as operator with that of the National Lottery,” which includes partnerships with ITV and the Daily Mail.
“It’s unclear to us how an advertising campaign in The House Magazine….serves to promote the National Lottery in order to increase returns to good causes.”
The letter continues: “We fear this is creating an unfair process that threatens the credibility of the National Lottery and you as a regulator.
“We are fearful that if the competition continues to allow the incumbent to mislead audiences as to its role in relation to good causes, it will lead to a situation where Camelot is awarded the licence for a fourth time and no credible bidders will be forthcoming in future competitions.”
“This is why we are now seeking assurances from the regulator on how you will enforce the rules properly to ensure this is a fair and competitive process.”
The Commission is already under pressure due to the collapse of the Football Index, which may have contributed to the departure of its CEO Neil McArthur earlier this month.
In response, Camelot said: “Camelot is doing all it can to maximise returns to good causes and promote The National Lottery brand in accordance with its licence and duties. The assertions made are wrong and the distinction between the role of Camelot and The National Lottery was accurate and made clear in all materials.
“At no time has money allocated for good causes been used for Camelot’s benefit. Criticising Camelot’s decision to use £1m of its own money to support a brilliant initiative by The Daily Mail to provide computers for children homeschooling, or to help fund a local bike scheme, is a surprise. The decision to support projects like these is in keeping with Camelot’s commitment to make a positive impact and help where it can.”
Camelot has run the National Lottery since its inception in 1994. In the lottery’s fourth licence competition, it will be up against the Czech Republic’s Sazka Group and India’s Sugal & Damani.