Billionaire Ex-Porn Baron Joins Camelot in Taking Legal Action Against UKGC Over National Lottery

  • Desmond’s Northern & Shell and a subsidiary, the New Lottery Company, started the legal action
  • Camelot filed a suit against the UKGC April 1 for awarding the lucrative lottery contract to Allwyn
  • Desmond’s move represents the third legal challenge against the UKGC’s in relation to the lottery
  • Ex-Tory head Iain Duncan Smith dubbed UKGC’s management of the lottery “appalling” last week
UK National Lottery sign
Firms owned by ex-porn tycoon Richard Desmond have started legal action against the UKGC over its awarding of the National Lottery license to Allywn. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Allwyn’s win legally questioned

Companies owned by the billionaire ex-porn baron Richard Desmond have taken legal action against the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC)’s awarding of the National Lottery license to Czech firm Allwyn Entertainment, reports The Guardian.

cited a high court filing dated April 13

The UK daily on Friday cited a high court filing dated April 13, in which Desmond’s Northern & Shell and a subsidiary, the New Lottery Company, started the legal action. Camelot, which has operated the National Lottery since 1994, filed a suit against the UKGC on April 1 for awarding the lucrative lottery contract to Allwyn.

With Desmond’s firms’ represented by law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner now entering the fray, it represents the third party to seek legal action against the increasingly embattled gambling regulator.

Allegedly secretive bidding process

Northern & Shell — a London-based publishing group that owns the UK’s Health Lottery — had not previously made its procurement bid for the National Lottery public, reports The Guardian. A UKGC news release last month, however, listed Desmond’s New Lottery Company, alongside Sisal Spa, Camelot, and Allwyn, as the four bidders for the license.

bidding competition for the lottery license “was shrouded in secrecy”

The Guardian also stated that the bidding competition for the lottery license “was shrouded in secrecy, with code names used internally by the commission to prevent details of the judging process leaking.”

The UKGC’s decision to award Allwyn the fourth license since the lottery began became public knowledge on March 15. As it stands, Camelot’s current license will end in 2024. Allwyn will then take over operations until 2034. Camelot, owned by a pension fund for Ontario teachers and multinational gambling firm International Game Technology, made a net income of £730m ($951m) in the year to March 2021 on revenues of £8.4bn ($10.9bn) from nearly ten million players.

According to The Guardian on Friday, the UKGC “declined to comment on Northern & Shell’s action.”

UKGC under increased pressure

This latest development adds yet more unwanted pressure on the regulator.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, Flutter-owned Sisal is also mulling joining Desmond and Camelot in legal action against the UKGC after losing out to Allwyn. The regulator also came under fire last week from the former leader of the Conservative Party, Sir Iain Duncan Smith. Duncan Smith labeled the UKGC’s management of the National Lottery “appalling” in light of the regulator using £154.8m ($201m) in proceeds from National Lottery ticket sales earmarked for charities.

Desmond famously grabbed headlines in 2004 as the owner of the Express for goose-stepping around a boardroom and shouting Nazi-inspired abuse at visiting executives from the Telegraph in a mockery of the German newspaper group’s bid for his newspaper.