The potential decision to award Camelot a fourth successive term as the UK’s lottery operator could spark a legal challenge from rival firms, according to the Financial Times.
Camelot’s rivals are set to launch an appeal on the basis that the tendering system unfairly prejudices new bidders seeking to succeed the current incumbent, whom they believe to be unfair beneficiaries of the process.
That concern is shared by a number of MP’s who believe the Canadian-owned company should be subjected to rigorous competition with their tenure set to extend to nearly 40 years if they are accepted for a fourth term.
As reported by the Financial Times, a 15% “solution risk factor” is allocated to each bidders’ business plan, which Giles Watling, a Tory member of the House of Commons culture committee, suggests would be more heavily loaded on to new applicants.
“That gives Camelot a ‘head and shoulders’ start over any of the other candidates,” Watling commented. “I believe every single candidate should start on a level playing field. If there’s going to be a competition, it should be fair and clear.”
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), though, said “solution risk factors” were merely one element of the “detailed evaluation framework” being used to distinguish applicants.
“No aspect of our framework applies differentially to any class of applicant, whether new entrant or incumbent,” it added.
The other three bidders in contention are Czech-owned Allwyn (formerly Sazka), Italian firm Sisal and media mogul Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell.
The UKGC is expected to disclose its preferred option to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in February before a public announcement in March as to who will be handed the licence in February 2024.
Previously, the UKGC were forced to dismiss reports that they had already picked Camelot as its preferred bidder in the Fourth National Lottery licence competition.
Camelot recorded sales of lottery games that amounted to £8.4bn in the year to March 2021, earning them a pre-tax profit of £95.2m, laying bare the lucrative nature of the contract.