The UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) ‘enabling agreement’ has been reversed by the Court of Appeal, who have granted Camelot and IGT permission to appeal Allwyn’s award of the fourth National Lottery licence.
On 29 June, the High Court of England and Wales lifted an automatic suspension that prevented the UKGC from formally transferring the licence to the Czech-based operator Allwyn.
However, following subsequent appeals from IGT and current incumbents Camelot, the Court permitted the appeal on Thursday, 14 July.
The appeal hearing is likely to take place in the week of 12 September.
Responding to this development, the Commission again expressed its fears over the ‘potentially severe’ consequences for the National Lottery.
“We are, obviously, disappointed with this outcome, but respect the court’s decision,” a UKGC statement read.
“The appeal process will generate challenges for the transition to the fourth licence and further delay to the award of the licence to Allwyn.
“We regret the decision by third parties to bring legal proceedings following the outcome of a highly successful competition for the fourth National Lottery licence, actions which could impact transition to the fourth licence and, ultimately, funding for good causes.
“Nevertheless, it remains our priority to ensure a seamless transition between the third and fourth National Lottery licences, so that players can continue to enjoy playing the National Lottery fairly, safely and claim their prizes, and so that the National Lottery continues to deliver for good causes in every corner of the UK.”
Notified of the appeal, Allwyn issued the following statement by UK Chairman Justin King: “We are obviously disappointed by today’s decision. It creates the likelihood of further delay as the appeal will not be held until September. It is common ground that this delay will damage the introduction of the benefits the fourth licence brings for good causes.
“As the Court ruled, Camelot and IGT must now provide an undertaking for damages by 4pm Friday. We call on them to either ensure that undertaking includes good causes, or instead in the interests of the good causes and the National Lottery, to gracefully accept the ruling of Mrs Justice O’Farrell.
“This would allow the suspension to be lifted and the Gambling Commission to move forward with awarding the fourth licence to Allwyn.”
The decision to name Allwyn as the preferred candidate for the fourth National Lottery licence has dominated headlines since its reveal in March, with concerns raised over potential links between the firm’s Chairman Karel Komarek and the Russian energy supplier Gazprom.
That, however, was downplayed by the UKGC earlier this month.