The legal battle between Camelot and the UK Gambling Commission is turning increasingly acrimonious.
After the current licence holder of the UK National Lottery draws and its industry regulator did battle in the High Court last week, the fear is that the legal proceedings could go on for months if not years as Camelot seeks to be reinstated as the operator of choice.
Their 30-year run as the custodian of the National Lottery is set to end in 2024 after the Commission decided to hand the operating licence to the Allwyn Group instead.
But Camelot have taken the regulator to court over perceived injustices in the process behind their replacement, and if the legal battle rumbles on until the ‘handover’ period then there could be serious ramifications for the National Lottery and its players.
Those could include the UK lottery being suspended for the first time in three decades, and – worse still – the possibility that winners of jackpot prizes may be unable to claim them until the situation is resolved.
The delay could also see charitable causes lose out to the tune of millions of pounds until Camelot’s legal bid is either won or thrown out of the courts.
The High Court is expected to convene this week and decide whether a suspension of the lottery will be required in the first quarter of 2024, which is when Camelot are currently scheduled to hand over the running of the UK draws to Allwyn.
In the Public Interest
With a proposed increase in charitable donations and a potential reduction in ticket prices back to £1, Allwyn have curried favour with the Gambling Commission and are likely to prove popular with lotto players too.
But Camelot claim that Allwyn have been ‘unlawfully appointed’ as their successor, and that the scoring process carried out by the regulator – who have the power to recommend a preferred supplier to the government, who ultimately make the final decision – was ‘badly wrong’.
Allwyn were given the metaphorical keys to the lottery when their bid, which is thought to have featured a promise of charitable donations totalling £38 billion across their ten-year licence, was approved by the regulator as part of a points-scoring system.
The firm is owned by Czech billionaire Karel Komarek, and brought advisors like Sir Sebastian Coe on board to help enhance their application for the lottery licence.
The two companies have been jousting in London’s High Court for the past fortnight, with Camelot citing that the ongoing legal battle presents a ‘risk of damage to the public interest’.
Those present heard that Allwyn won by a reported 1.7% of the Commission’s scoring, although Camelot have queried a ‘discount’ that, if applied, would see them allegedly come out as the winners instead.
A spokesperson for the firm said:
“More than 1,000 Camelot employees work tirelessly to successfully operate The National Lottery under the current licence and, at the very least, they are owed a proper explanation.”
The regulator, meanwhile, has reiterated their belief that they ran a ‘fair and robust’ competition, and regrets that Camelot have taken the matter so far.