Camelot could make legal challenge against UKGC National Lottery licence decision

Operator of the UK National Lottery Camelot has been named as the winner of the All-Party Corporate Responsibility Group’s ‘Responsible Business Champion’ Award, singled out for its ‘incredible work in the local community’
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Camelot may lodge a legal appeal against the UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) decision to name Allwyn as the ‘preferred’ applicant for the fourth National Lottery licence. 

As reported by The Times, the 28-year incumbent has written to the Commission, a move that could signal the first move of a more prolonged legal challenge to the landmark decision. 

An ‘at-least’ 10-day legal standstill period is currently underway and will end on Friday at the earliest, offering Camelot and fellow bidders Sisal and The New Lottery company the opportunity to challenge UKGC’s preferred applicant choice. 

Following the standstill, a 22-month transitional period will take effect, allowing Allwyn a smooth entrance into the 10-year, £80bn contract. 

However, The Times reported that Camelot officials have asked UKGC to explain why Allwyn was named preferred applicant even though ‘it had scored more highly than Allwyn on almost every measure’ and both bids scored zero for the solution-risk factor. 

Announcing Allwyn’s victorious bid, the UKGC stated that the process was a ‘fair, open and robust’ competition and that the Czech operator’s bid was awarded on merit. 

A UKGC statement from last week read: “Allwyn has committed to investment in the National Lottery that is expected to deliver growth and innovation across the National Lottery’s products and channels, resulting in increased contributions to good causes, subject to the protection of participants and propriety.”

Despite this, the reported £38bn committed for good causes over the 10-year contract by Allwyn is ‘unusually high’, given the figure is only £7bn short of Camelot’s good causes contributions since 1994, opening the path to a challenge from the current licensee.

Upon UKGC’s announcement, Camelot Chairman Nigel Railton expressed his ‘disappointment’ in the decision, pointing towards the operator’s ‘record-breaking results’ throughout the third licence period. 

He told stakeholders: “I’m incredibly disappointed by today’s announcement, but we still have a critical job to do – as our current licence runs until February 2024. We’re now carefully reviewing the Gambling Commission’s evaluation before deciding on our next steps.

“I’m enormously grateful to our 1,000-plus employees who have been unwavering in delivering record-breaking results during the current licence. And I know they remain absolutely determined to build on our four and a half years of successive sales growth – which has seen us achieve record sales in each of the last two years, resulting in the best-ever returns to Good Causes from ticket sales last year.”

In 2000, Richard Branson’s Virgin was initially announced as the preferred applicant before an appeal from Camelot saw the Ontario-owned firm retain the licence.