The transition of the UK National Lottery licence will go ahead as planned after Camelot’s legal bid to prevent the handover to Allwyn was thrown out by the High Court.
Camelot, who have been the preferred supplier since the lottery’s foundation in 1994, lost out to Allwyn in a competition that saw the European firm graded as a better prospect, in the eyes of the UK Gambling Commission, than the incumbent.
The baton was supposed to be passed in August 2023, however delays – brought about by the global crisi, amongst other things – saw the transition moved back an additional six months.
And Camelot wanted to extend that delay even further, with their legal challenge indefinitely suspending the handover until the outstanding matters had been solved in court.
But a High Court judge has now ruled that the transition can continue on the agreed timeline – pending a further legal battle that will unfold in October as Camelot seek damages from the Gambling Commission.
Reflecting on the High Court’s decision, a spokesperson for the regulator said:
“On 15 March, the Gambling Commission announced Allwyn Entertainment as preferred applicant for the fourth National Lottery licence.
“The Commission subsequently received legal proceedings in relation to the competition process, placing an automatic suspension on our ability to formally award the licence to Allwyn. We made clear that disrupting the implementation of Allwyn’s plans would present potentially severe consequences for the National Lottery and good causes.
“Today – 29 June – the court agreed to lift the suspension. We will, therefore, begin the important work of formally awarding the licence to Allwyn.”
In response, a representative from Camelot described the decision as ‘disappointing’, but that the company believes they still have a ‘very strong legal case’ against the regulator.
Another Day in Court
All of the parties will renew their acquaintances in the courts in October – that’s when Camelot will make their accusation that the Commission’s competition for the next lottery licence delivered a ‘badly wrong’ verdict.
Their chief executive, Nigel Railton, said back in April:
“We are launching a legal challenge today in our capacity as an applicant for the fourth [National Lottery] licence, because we firmly believe that the Gambling Commission has got this decision badly wrong.
“When we received the result, we were shocked by aspects of the decision,” Railton continued. “Despite lengthy correspondence, the commission has failed to provide a satisfactory response. We are therefore left with no choice but to ask the court to establish what happened.”
The regulator has consistently played a straight bat in return, and poo-pooed any notion that Camelot had been treated unfairly.
“We regret Camelot’s decision to bring legal proceedings following the outcome of a highly successful competition for the fourth National Lottery licence,” a statement from the Commission read. “The competition and our evaluation have been carried out fairly and lawfully in accordance with our statutory duties, and we are confident that a court would come to that conclusion.
“We have taken every step possible to ensure a level playing field for all interested parties, to enable us to appoint a licensee who will engage and protect players, run the National Lottery with integrity and ensure the National Lottery continues to support good causes and their contribution to society.”