There could yet be a few twists and turns in the battle to secure the UK National Lottery operating licence from 2024 onwards.
In what has become one of the worst kept secrets in the industry, the UK Gambling Commission has announced Allwyn as their preferred candidate to take over the running of the lottery from Camelot.
But there are rumours that the regulator made a ‘late switch’ in their deliberations, and that could form the foundation for a reported legal bid from Camelot to have the decision thrown out.
The Daily Mail has reported that Camelot is ‘expected’ to go through the courts to get the Commission’s decision quashed, and they are rumoured to have appointed of the UK’s most respected lawyers in Lord Paddick.
The basis of their argument could be formulated around the scorecard system that the Gambling Commission used to rate the candidates for the operating licence, which also included bids from Sisal and media mogul Richard Desmond.
While shrouded in mystery, it’s believed that the scoring system includes sections like expected charitable donations and commitment to new technology, and it is the way they have been graded that has seemingly drawn the ire of Camelot.
One of the reasons Allwyn were able to usurp Camelot was their pledge to donate more money to charity via ticket sales – they have promised £30 billion over ten years, whereas Camelot have donated £45 billion during their 28-year stint.
The Commission was also reported to be impressed with Allwyn’s track record in using digital technologies in promoting their lotteries in Europe – more and more young people are no longer playing the UK National Lottery, and the new operator will be tasked with arresting that decline.
See You In Court
It would be fair to say that Camelot are no strangers to litigation.
They have twice already been involved in high profile court cases, with the first of those coming back in the year 2000. The then regulator, the National Lottery Commission, had planned to issue the next licence to Richard Branson’s The People’s Lottery, but Camelot complained to the High Court that the bidding process had been ‘unfair’.
And Justice Richards agreed, claiming that the Commission’s decision to negotiate exclusively with Branson’s operation showcased ‘such unfairness that it rendered the decision unlawful.’
Amid some rather bitter recriminations, Camelot was eventually chosen to extend their existing licence agreement – Branson tried to sue for £18 million in compensation, but his case was thrown out.
In 2012, the firm was back in the High Court….but this time they would end up on the losing end of the decision.
Camelot’s legal team had tried to persuade judges that the presence of the Health Lottery – ran by Richard Desmond – meant that the Gambling Commission had ‘unlawfully and unreasonably’ failed to protect the position of its licensed operator.
They tried to get the licence of the Health Lottery revoked, however the presiding judge Lord Justice Stanley Burnton ruled against them, declaring he would ‘refuse Camelot permission to proceed with its claim for judicial review, on the grounds of its failure to establish a claim with a real prospect of success.’