Legal Challenges Being Made over National Lottery Licence Decision

Last month saw the Gambling Commission name Allwyn as their preferred candidate for the new National Lottery licence. Three of the other contenders have now declared that they will be going to court to challenge that decision.

Camelot have held the licence to run the National Lottery since it began in 1994. The Gambling Commission decided that they would only be the “reserve applicant” for the next licence that begins in 2024.

They were quick to ask for a review into the decision. Camelot claim that the Gambling Commission breached their own rules in how the tendering process was run. Camelot are confused as to why it was Allwyn who were named the preferred applicant. They claim to have scored higher marks than their rivals “on almost every measure.”

Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell were one of the four bidders for the licence. They have also now announced their intention to challenge the decision. The company have previously bid to run the National Lottery but were rather quiet during the tender process for the new licence with barely any details of their plans.

They currently run the Health Lottery along with subsidiary the New Lottery Company. Law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner will represent them in their legal action against the Gambling Commission.

Gambling tech business IGT are also unhappy at what has happened. They have filed a lawsuit and it could be that all four of the bidders will go to court. Sisal, who run Italy’s extremely difficult to win SuperEnalotto are also considering their next move.

The decision to give the licence to Allywn, who were founded by the Czech billionaire Karel Komarek has already caused controversy. Questions were asked in the House of Commons about links with Russia. The contract to run the National Lottery is for ten years and believed to be worth £80billion. You can see therefore why the losing bidders want the decision changed.

All these court cases add to the problems the Gambling Commission may have in the future. There has been disquiet over the fact they awarded themselves £155million from National Lottery sales. This was to cover the costs of the tender process. It’s believed the process went £50million over budget.

The Daily Mail have been highly critical and claimed that the Gambling Commission had made “a raid” on National Lottery funds. In their opinion, the money should have gone to help charities and community groups.

The Gambling Commission say the process was a “fair, open and robust” process. They added that Allwyn had won the licence on merit. They believe that Allwyn will invest in the National Lottery, and this is “expected to deliver growth and innovation across the National Lottery’s products and channels.”

As a result, this will lead to an increased amount give to good causes. Allwyn have said that £38billion will go to good causes during the ten-year licence period. That’s just £7billion less than Camelot have given out since 1994. Camelot dispute the Allwyn figures and that will be a main point of their challenge.

Perhaps Allwyn shouldn’t start their celebrations just yet. In 2000 Richard Branson’s Virgin was named as the preferred applicant for the next National Lottery licence. Camelot made a successful appeal and were granted the licence. Could history repeat itself??