Camelot to Legally Challenge UKGC Over Awarding of National Lottery License

  • Camelot will challenge the UKGC’s choice of Allwyn Entertainment for the National Lottery license
  • The legal challenge will likely focus on the UKGC’s alteration of the bid scoring system
  • Some MPs have concerns regarding Allwyn’s billionaire owner and his links to Russia
  • Allwyn Entertainment is set to take over the operations of the National Lottery by February 2024
National Lottery sign
Camelot is planning to legally challenge the awarding of the next National Lottery license to Allwyn Entertainment. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Issues with the scoring system

The UK National Lottery license saga continues as Camelot has revealed its plan to legally challenge the awarding of the license to Allwyn Entertainment.

The Telegraph reported on Sunday that Camelot plans to commence a High Court challenge regarding the UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) decision. The legal action will include a judicial review and a High Court procurement challenge.

changes made to the license bid scoring system

Camelot has taken issue with changes made to the license bid scoring system. The operator received the highest score based on the original grading system. However, the UKGC altered the ‘risk factor’ discount for the bidders’ financial projections from up to 15% to zero.

Camelot believes this had a major impact because Allwyn projected it would raise a much greater sum for good causes. Also initially taken aback by the change, Allwyn commenced its own legal proceedings against the UKGC only a few days before getting the news of its successful bid in mid-March.

Various uncertainties

As reported by The Telegraph, Camelot will likely scrutinize an intervention from MP Julian Knight, chair of the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee. She wrote to the UKGC telling officials that using a risk factor meant that Camelot would have a major advantage in the bidding process.

shone a spotlight on the billionaire owner of Allwyn

MPs and the mainstream media have also shone a spotlight on the billionaire owner of Allwyn Entertainment – Karel Komarek. The Czech has an estimated net worth of about $7.8bn and his company operates a major Czech Republic-based gas storage facility. It is a joint venture with Gazprom, a gas company owned by the Russian government. The billionaire has denounced the Russian regime following its invasion of Ukraine.

Gambling Minister Chris Philp has looked for assurances from the UKGC about the billionaire’s links with the Russian state-owned gas producer Gazprom. Philp asked the UKGC to assure him that “it has conducted thorough inquiries to establish that the provisional license awardee meets the test.” He confirmed that he had received that assurance.

End of an era

If Camelot is unsuccessful with the legal challenge, it will mark the first time the firm will not operate the lottery since its creation in 1994. Allwyn Entertainment is set to take over the full operations and commence its ten-year license starting February 2024.

Commenting on Allwyn Entertainment’s successful bid earlier this month, UKGC chief executive Andrew Rhodes said that the operator’s proposal was “the best way of growing returns to good causes by revitalizing The National Lottery.”

To add insult to injury, the UKGC issued a £3.15m ($4.14m) fine last week to Camelot due to three major failures associated with the National Lottery app.