The Camelot Group has been the operator of the UK National Lottery for nearly three decades but is set to hand over its gambling license to its rival Czech-owned operator Allwyn.

In March, the UK National Lottery named Allwyn the winner of a 10-year lottery license, beating three other contenders, including Camelot. Camelot is now seeking to reverse the decision and refuses to hand over the licensee to their rival.

The Camelot Group is going to court later this month in an appeal to delay the handover of the £6.4bn contract.

This opens the risk of the lottery being suspended for the first time in UK history as the Gambling Commission warns, "In the worst scenario, there will be a gap in service between the expiry of the third licence on 31 January 2024 and the commencement of the fourth licence. The commission anticipates there will be an overall shortfall of payment to good causes of at least £1bn and, in the case of an interregnum, considerably more."

The lottery had been able to raise about £1.9bn in the 2020 to 2021 period. This money was donated to multiple "good causes," including funding food banks, schools, athletes, and various after-school programs.

Labour MP Kevin Brennan released a statement explaining, "Any delay in the handover of the lottery that denies money going to good causes would be a disaster, particularly at a time when people are facing increasing hardship. It would be better for everyone if this matter was resolved quickly and the new lottery operator took over as soon as possible."

Should Camelot succeed in its court appeal in delaying the handover, the case will also question the Gambling Commission's oversight in neglecting to ensure that there was to be sufficient time in its timetable to allow for likely legal challenges. Camelot also seeks to contest the scores the regulator gave to the bidding companies.

The Camelot claim asserts that the Gambling Commission failed "correctly and lawfully" to properly assess the bids and "committed manifest errors." Meanwhile, the Gambling Commission defends that the competition was open, fair and robust and absolutely denies all allegations that there were any breaches of its legal obligations.

An Allwyn spokesperson said that the upcoming hearing in September "represents the last opportunity to avoid even more losses to good causes."

The Future of Gambling and Sports Betting
The Future of Gambling and Sports Betting in the UK Pixabay