National Lottery licence: Allwyn given go-ahead for transfer after key court decision

Allwyn has been granted clearance to begin the transition period towards taking over the National Lottery licence after the High Court lifted a suspension placed upon the UK Gambling Commission.
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Allwyn has been granted clearance to begin the transition period towards taking over the National Lottery licence after the High Court lifted a suspension placed upon the UK Gambling Commission

The UKGC was suspended from beginning the licence transfer process after Allwyn was named the preferred bidder for the 10-year government contract, however, following a legal process, the High Court has agreed to lift the ban.

In May, Camelot – the ever present incumbent of the lottery –  had filed legal proceedings against the UKGC awarding the Fourth National Lottery licence to Allwyn.

Subsequently, the High Court implemented an automatic suspension on the Commission’s ability to transfer the licence to Allwyn, sparking an appeal from UKGC. 

UKGC raised fears that the National Lottery could be suspended if such legal issues were not ironed out, with John Tanner, Executive Director of the regulator, warning that delays could jeopardise the transfer process.

“This will almost certainly mean that, as a minimum, the National Lottery does not operate to its full potential at the start of the fourth licence term,” he noted.

“Further, there is a real risk in these circumstances that there will, following the end of the third licence, be a period where the National Lottery does not operate at all.”

This morning, it was confirmed that the court agreed to lift the suspension so that UKGC can begin to formally award the fourth National Lottery licence to Czech-based company.

Updating stakeholders on the latest developments, the Commission stated: “Our priority is to continue to work to implement our decision and ensure a seamless and timely transition to the next licence, for the benefit of participants and good causes.

Despite this positive development for Allwyn and UKGC, the legal challenge from Camelot still looms large, with the current incumbent claiming against how it handled its duties managing the competition. 

Yet, UKGC maintains ‘resolute’ that it ran a ‘fair and robust competition’ therefore believing it has a high likelihood of victory. 

The fourth licence period is set to begin in February 2024, leaving just 19 months to hand over the lucrative contract. 

Allwyn responded to today’s court ruling, pledging its commitment to a ‘transformative programme’ for the National Lottery under its stewardship. 

An Allwyn statement on the decision read: “Today’s ruling is good news for The National Lottery; it enables the Gambling Commission to move forward to award Allwyn the Fourth National Lottery Licence. Mrs. Justice O’Farrell was clear that the public interest, and in particular the impact on good causes, was a strong factor in her judgement. 

“Her decision paves the way for the transition to Allwyn, the winner of the Fourth Licence Competition, serving The National Lottery as its operator from February 2024; kickstarting a transformation programme that brings an enhanced games portfolio, new technologies, provisions for safer play, and a substantial increase in returns to good causes.  

“We look forward to the Gambling Commission moving to Award and to Camelot working constructively with us to ensure a smooth handover for the benefit of players and good causes alike.”
Yesterday, Camelot announced the National Lottery’s sales figures for 2021/22, detailing that tough economic conditions for consumers and greater competition led to a decline in sales, particularly driven by a steep fall in instant game tickets.