The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has launched an inquiry into the competition process to award the next licence for the operation of the UK National Lottery.
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is hosting the competition for the contract, worth around £80bn, and the announcement of a preferred applicant for the licence is expected to be made in September.
Camelot has operated the National Lottery since its inception in 1994 but faces fierce competition for the fourth licence, as it is up against Italy’s Sisal; Sazka Group under the UK corporate identity of Allwyn; India’s Sugal & Damani; and former adult magazine publisher Richard Desmond.
The current National Lottery operator has also faced criticism from stakeholders, as it has been accused of retaining profits, instead of awarding more to worthy causes. Its transfers to worthy causes have risen indirectly proportional to that of profits, causing the DCMS to launch its inquiry.
As a result of these allegations, the DCMS is seeking to enforce changes ‘to the operation of the licence to require that contributions to these causes will rise in a similar proportion to profits.’
The Committee will also scrutinise the preferred applicant as well as the process that was involved.
Committee Chair, Julian Knight MP, commented: “The National Lottery has raised £43bn for good causes since its launch in 1994.
“We want to make sure its future is in good hands. Our concern is not only with the operation of the competition to find the next operator, but also with the Gambling Commission that is overseeing the process.
“Crucially we’ll be asking what measures will be in place to ensure that when profits rise, it’s not just the operator that benefits, but good causes too.”
Camelot’s current license expires in 2023 but the next license holder will be announced later this year, subject to a two-year changeover period.