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Camelot “disappointed” as court allows Gambling Commission to award Allwyn lottery licence

| By Richard Mulligan
The Gambling Commission has begun the process of formally awarding the UK National Lottery licence to Allwyn Entertainment after the High Court lifted a suspension imposed following Camelot Group’s legal challenge.

However, the legal challenge itself – regarding whether the Commission lawfully awarded the licence to Allwyn – will still continue.

The Court ruled on Wednesday that the suspension put in place in April should be lifted, meaning the Commission can sign an enabling agreement with Allwyn ahead of the scheduled beginning of its licence period in February 2024.

The suspension was put in place after Camelot – which has run the Lottery since it launched in 1994 – began legal action following the Commission’s announcement in March that Allwyn was its preferred applicant for the fourth National Lottery licence.

While the suspension has been lifted, the High Court has yet to rule on Camelot’s legal challenge over the Commission’s selection process and preferred applicant decision.

Commenting on the ruling, a Camelot spokesperson said: “While disappointing, this judgement only addresses whether or not the enabling agreement can be signed while our case is heard. The judgment on whether the Commission correctly and lawfully awarded preferred applicant status is being dealt with separately.

“We will take some time to consider our next steps and continue to believe that we have a very strong legal case. In the meantime, we remain dedicated to maximising returns to good causes, building on our record performance over the past two years.”

The crux of Camelot’s challenge focused on the scoring system and risk factor applied to judging the candidates for the fourth lottery licence.

Camelot had initially received the highest score in a system where all bids were assessed with scorecards under the planned scoring system. This system included a ‘risk discount’ that was applied to scores in order to take into account the possibility that an operator fell short of its projected target for good causes. The impact of the ‘risk discount’ was then reduced and bids were rescored, pushing Allwyn into first place.

Following today’s ruling, the Commission said in a statement: “We will also now 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.

“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 maximises support for good causes and its contribution to society through further innovation and investment.”

Allwyn UK said in a statement this morning: “Today’s ruling is good news for the National Lottery; it enables the Commission to move forward to award Allwyn the fourth National Lottery licence.

“Mrs Justice O’Farrell was clear that the public interest, and in particular the impact on good causes, was a strong factor in her judgment. Her decision paves the way for the transition to Allwyn, the winner of the fourth licence competition, serving the National Lottery as its operator from February 2024; kickstarting a transformation programme that brings an enhanced games portfolio, new technologies, provisions for safer play, and a substantial increase in returns to good causes.”

Earlier this week, Camelot reported a fall in ticket sales during 2021-22 as the National Lottery felt the impact of a post-pandemic retail footfall decline and the cost-of-living crisis.

Camelot said £8.09bn of sales were made, which was down 2.5% from the £8.3bn generated in the prior year. However, 2021-22 was only the second time that sales figures have broken the £8bn mark.

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