Camelot has accused the Gambling Commission of breaking the law in its scoring system to determine the next National Lottery licence, and has signalled their intent to take the regulator to court.
The Commission decided upon Allwyn, formerly the SAZKA Group, as their preferred operator after conducting a points-based examination of the various bidders.
While the exact process is somewhat hush-hush, it’s believed that the scoring system revolves around a number of categories, including commitment to charitable causes and use of new technologies.
Allwyn came out on top, and have been recommended to the government as the best option – ministers will now decide on who is handed the licence, which will run for ten years from 2024. If the pan-European firm are selected, it would bring an end to Camelot’s three-decade long monopoly of the UK lottery sector.
But there could yet be a plot twist. The Telegraph is reporting that Camelot intend to take the Commission through the courts, with that scoring system the focus of their legal battle.
They claim that they came out on top in the Commission’s initial scoring round, and allege that the regulator ‘changed the rules’ to swing the process in Allwyn’s favour. They claim that a 15% ‘risk factor’ reduction in financial projections was applied to the bidders, but then later amended to zero – leading to Camelot missing out on top spot, in their opinion.
The ‘error’ meant that Allwyn’s projection of donating £38 billion to charitable causes over the duration of the licence agreement far outweighed those proposed by Camelot. That’s according to their legal team, anyway, who are expected to commence legal proceedings in the next few days that could include both a judicial review and a High Court challenge.
Their case may have legs too, given that Allwyn themselves were reportedly considering legal action against the Gambling Commission prior to being announced as the preferred bidder. Had they been informed that they had lost the process?
The CEO of Camelot, Nigel Railton, had earlier claimed that he and his team were ‘carefully reviewing’ the Commission’s decision-making process before ‘deciding on our next steps’.
This is a battle that could rage on for quite some time yet….
Not Very Charitable
One of the reasons that the Commission is thought to have judged against Camelot is the decrease in charitable donations that they were making from the various lottery products – the appointment of Allwyn signals a wider change for the industry, according to Clean Up Gambling head Matt Zarb-Cousin.
“Camelot’s tenure saw the lottery increasingly associated with the wider gambling sector, due to the rise of online instant win games more reminiscent of casino and slot products than a lottery draw, he has commented.
“While this might have been good for Camelot’s profits, it meant a lower proportion of total revenue going to good causes.”
The Times conducted their own investigation into Camelot’s finances, and they found that while their earnings more than doubled between 2010-17 – up to a handsome £71 million per year – the amount donated to charitable causes during that time increased by just 2%.