The former UK National Lottery licence holder Camelot has told the High Court they will cease to exist if they are not reinstated as operator.
The firm is appearing in front of a judge in London this week to argue their case that the lottery licence should not be taken from them, and gave evidence to suggest that they would go out of business if the court upholds the Gambling Commission’s decision to award the rights to the various draws to Allwyn Entertainment from 2024.
The regulator revealed Allwyn as their ‘preferred bidder’ to run the UK lottery once Camelot’s current licence comes to an end, citing their commitment to donating more money to charitable causes and their digital expertise as the main reasons.
But Camelot believes that the Commission’s point-scoring system, used to determine the winner of their long-winded contest that included Sisal and Health Lottery chief Richard Desmond, was unfair – the basis of their High Court appeal.
They want to be reinstated in place of Allwyn, who operate lotteries across Europe, or will at least sue the regulator for damages instead. Their decision to argue the decision has placed a legally-binding ‘block’ on the transfer of the licence, which delays the transition period to Allwyn and enables Camelot to continue profiting from their lottery draws until all of the legal issues are concluded.
The UK based operator will be hoping that they strike it as lucky as the latest EuroMillions winner, who scooped £184 million earlier this week – the 15th person from the UK to win a prize in excess of £100 million.
Fingers In Pies
The legal representative for the Gambling Commission, Sarah Hannaford QC, has argued that Camelot’s status as a Special Vehicle Company (SPV) – meaning that their sole reason for existing is to run the lottery – is not a valid reason for them to get a free pass.
“The licence that it has entered into allows it only to carry out the UK National Lottery and ancillary activities if there is agreement,” she confirmed.
“Setting yourself up as an SPV, and then saying there is an existential threat, simply does not work as a matter of law in my submission.
“Camelot UK took a decision to operate as they did, and it was perfectly foreseeable that they might lose a contract.”
The casino industry software specialist IGT has also filed litigation against the Commission, citing a loss of revenue given that they provide the underlying tech for Camelot.
But Hannaford dismissed their claims too, stating ‘IGT is a massive global business and the UK lottery is frankly a very small part of it. It has a lot of fingers in a lot of lottery pies.’
Both Camelot and IGT are suing for damages – the former for as much as £500 million, and if the High Court comes down on their side the money may have to be taken from the pot set aside for charitable causes.
The case is expected to conclude today (Friday May 13).