Camelot loses bid to prevent handover of National Lottery licence

Rivals Allwyn will now run the National Lottery after Camelot was ditched after 30 years.

High Court rules handover of National Lottery licence to Allwyn to begin after suspension lifted Icenando via iStock

Camelot has lost its legal bid to prevent the handover of the National Lottery licence to rival Allwyn after the High Court ruled it could go ahead.

The Gambling Commission said the court had agreed to lift the suspension preventing it from beginning the licence transfer, which was put in place when Camelot launched legal action in April challenging the decision to pick Allwyn as the firm to run the lottery from 2024.

The commission announced in March that it had chosen Allwyn – which runs lotteries in Austria, Italy and Greece – for the next licence, ditching Camelot after 30 years.

Camelot launched legal proceedings a month later challenging the decision, claiming the Gambling Commission got the decision “badly wrong”.

The commission asked the High Court to overturn the automatic stay-put order on the handover due to the legal case, warning over disruption it could cause to the lottery.

The regulator said: “We made clear that disrupting the implementation of Allwyn’s plans would present potentially severe consequences for the National Lottery and good causes.

“It also risked the National Lottery not operating to its full potential at the start of the fourth licence.”

It added that following the court’s decision its “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”.

Despite the High Court decision, Camelot’s legal challenge against the licence decision will continue.

Camelot is hoping for a trial in October, but the commission is pushing for it to begin in January. It is expected to sue the regulator for an estimated £500m damages.

The commission said it will be “preparing for trial of the various claims”.

“We remain resolute that we have run a fair and robust competition, and that our evaluation has been carried out fairly and lawfully in accordance with our statutory duties,” it said.

A spokesman for Camelot said: “While disappointing, this judgment only addresses whether or not the enabling agreement can be signed while our case is heard.

“We will take some time to consider our next steps and continue to believe that we have a very strong legal case.”

In a court submission, Camelot said the commission’s decision to award the licence to Allwyn was likely to put Camelot “out of business”.

Camelot, owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, has run the UK lottery since 2004.

Its annual figures on Tuesday showed that sales fell 3% to £8.1bn in the year to March 31 as it flagged signs that players had “tightened their belts” in the face of soaring living costs.

Camelot chief executive Nigel Railton told the PA news agency on unveiling the figures that it had “no choice but to go to court and ask them who is the rightful winner” of the fourth licence.

“This is the biggest procurement decision in this Parliament and it really deserves independent scrutiny,” he said.

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