Gambling Minister Chris Philp has denied suggestions that government officials met with Allwyn, ahead of the decision to award the fourth National Lottery licence to the Czech-based operator.
Last month, Allwyn was named as the preferred candidate for the lottery licence, breaking the 30-year incumbency period of Camelot.
However, concerns were raised over the decision, particularly in relation to the company’s Chairman Kamel Komarek, who has been cited as having links to Russian energy supplier Gazprom. This has been a particularly pertinent issue in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The link was downplayed by Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, who said that Komarek was in the process of severing his ties with Gazprom.
Still, questions have persisted regarding the award of the fourth National Lottery licence, with Alex Davies-Jones, Shadow Minister for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), particularly vocal in her pursuit of clarity over the matter.
Last week, Davies-Jones accused Philp of “bluster”, and referenced the long-awaited publication of the White Paper.
Writing on the UK Parliament website, she also said: “To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if she will publish the (a) dates, (b) meeting minutes and (c) attendees of all meetings that Ministers and officials in her department have attended in the last 12 months with the preferred National Lottery provider, Allwyn.”
On March 30, Philp replied: “DCMS offered official-level meetings to all final-stage applicants to the fourth National Lottery licence competition to give an overview of the government’s vision for the Gambling and National Lottery sectors.
“On 23 November 2020, DCMS’s Director for Sport, Gambling and Ceremonials and Deputy Director for Gambling and Lotteries met representatives of Sazka (now Allwyn Entertainment Ltd). Ministers did not meet with Allwyn in respect of the competition to operate the fourth National Lottery licence.”
Yesterday, Philp also addressed the publication of the White Paper, writing on his personal Twitter profile: “This government is committed to tackling the tragic reality that too many people who gamble unfortunately fall victim to.
“I am pleased that the Gambling White Paper will be published very imminently.”