MP At War with UK Gambling Commission

The ongoing battle to win the new National Lottery licence continues to be controversial. The latest news is that Julian Knight MP has accused the behaviour of the UK Gambling Commission.

The MP is the chair of the UK government’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee. He’s been following the process that will see the Gambling Commission make a decision on who will hold the next National Lottery licence.

Knight is not happy at the way everything is going. It’s got to the stage where he has accused the Gambling Commission of attempting to block an inquiry into their role as the regulator of the National Lottery which was announced last month.

He didn’t make a speech in Parliament, instead the Tory MP for Solihull went onto his Twitter account to make his views known. Knight stated: “I and @CommonsDCMS take an extremely dim view of any unelected quango actively looking to frustrate our inquiries. I trust that there will be a rapid change of approach on behalf of the Gambling Commission. This sets a dangerous precedent for democracy.”

As you might have expected, the Gambling Commission haven’t been too happy with the MPs comments. A Financial Times report says that a letter has been sent by the interim chief executive of the Gambling Commission, Andrew Rhodes addressing the comments.

He believes that any investigation at this point of time could put at risk the National Lottery tender. The interim chief executive wrote: “it would pose significant risk to the integrity of the competition if any of the applicants, or anyone directly involved in the competition in any way, were to provide evidence to the inquiry at this sensitive stage of the competition.”

The response hasn’t gone down well with Mr Knight. He claimed that it was “potentially a contempt of Parliament.” Such is his displeasure with the letter received, he is “seriously considering” asking Rhodes to come to Parliament to explain the contents of his letter.

Just who was to be granted the next National Lottery licence was due to be announced next month. The decision has been delayed until next February which means current holders Camelot will now hold the current licence until February 2024.

Those hoping to hold the new National Lottery licence are current holders Camelot, Sisal from Italy (who run the SuperEnalotto lottery) and the Czech Republic’s SAZKA Group under its UK identity Allwyn.

A Gambling Commission statement on the process said: “Our priority is to run a fair and open competition, in which applicants compete on a level playing field. As part of this, all parties directly involved in the competition must adhere to strict confidentiality protocols that seek to protect the integrity and fairness of the process and maintain competitive tension.”