National Lottery operator Camelot has launched legal action against the Gambling Commission after it announced plans to transfer the licence to operate the game to a rival after 30 years.
Commission officials said on March 15 that Allwyn, owned by Czech businessman Karel Komarek, was the preferred applicant to take over the venture in 2024.
The decision came after a bidding process between four parties for the licence, which Camelot has held since 1994.
In the competition, which the commission said attracted the highest number of candidates, the other applicants were Sisal Spa, Camelot and The New Lottery Company Ltd.
According to court records, Camelot filed a High Court claim against the Gambling Commission on Thursday evening.
Camelot chief executive Nigel Railton said the company is bringing the legal action because it “firmly believes that the Gambling Commission has got this decision badly wrong”.
He added: “Despite lengthy correspondence, the commission has failed to provide a satisfactory response. We are therefore left with no choice but to ask the court to establish what happened.
“Irrespective of Camelot’s dual roles as current operator and applicant for the next National Lottery licence, the competition is one of the largest UK Government-sponsored procurements and the process deserves independent scrutiny.
“Separately, more than 1000 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 Gambling Commission has said the selection “follows a fair, open and robust competition”.
A statement on behalf of the body said: “We regret Camelot’s decision to bring legal proceedings following the outcome of a highly successful competition for the fourth National Lottery licence.
“The competition and our evaluation have been carried out fairly and lawfully in accordance with our statutory duties, and we are confident that a court would come to that conclusion.
“We are confident that we have run a fair and robust competition.
“We have taken every step possible to ensure a level playing field for all interested parties, to enable us to appoint a licensee who will engage and protect players, run the National Lottery with integrity and ensure the National Lottery continues to support good causes and their contribution to society.
“Our priority is to continue to work to implement our decision and ensure a seamless and timely transition to the next licence, for the benefit of participants and good causes.
“These proceedings will not help that but we trust that Camelot will honour its obligations as the current licensee to cooperate in that transition, and we will continue to use the tools available to us to facilitate that process.”