Gambling Minister accused of ‘bluster’ as Allwyn-National Lottery concerns circle

Allwyn, National Lotteru
Image: Shutterstock

Further questions have been raised in Parliament regarding the UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) decision to name Allwyn as the ‘preferred applicant’ for the fourth National Lottery licence, amid reported ties to a Russian company.

Speaking today, Alex Davies-Jones, Shadow Minister for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), pleaded for clarity regarding the Czech-based operator’s relationship with energy supplier Gazprom, as previously questioned by Watford MP Dean Russell.

Allwyn was awarded the fourth National Lottery licence by the UKGC, breaking the 30-year incumbency period of Camelot, but Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine has led to scepticism of the company in some quarters.

“The [Gambling] Minister is well aware of the cost of delaying action to tackle problem gambling,” Davies-Jones said.

“When the government’s long-awaited White Paper is finally published, it must go further than to tackle issues with gambling licences, including the National Lottery.

“In recent weeks, there have been clear concerns raised around the Gambling Commission’s decisions to appoint the new licence to a company with reported links to Gazprom. Given the extremely concerning situation in Ukraine, can the Minister confirm he is confident that the new provider has no links to the Russian regime, and if so – why?”

Posting a video of the exchange to her personal Twitter profile, Davies-Jones wrote: “Today, I pressed Minister [Chris] Philp on the new National Lottery operator, Allwyn, and its alleged links to the Kremlin.

“The National Lottery, a beloved institution, must have no financial connection to the atrocities unfolding in Ukraine. 

“His answer was pure bluster.”

Philp, responding to Davies-Jones, seemingly echoed the sentiments of Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, who told Parliament earlier this month that Allwyn owner Kamel Komarek is in discussions with the Czech Republic government over removing his association with Gazprom.

“The Gambling Commission, as part of their licence award process, have to have a statutory obligation to make sure that anyone they give a licence to meets the fit and proper person test,” Philp said.

“I’ve asked the Gambling Commission to confirm to me that they’ve conducted thorough enquiries to ensure and to confirm that the provisional licence awardee does pass the fit and proper test, and that they have given me that assurance.

“There are also processes in place to take the licence holder, or the proposed licence holder, through the UK secure vetting process, and that work will be commencing shortly.”