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National Lottery: Regulator to Ask Court to Enforce Allwyn License Award | National Lottery

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The gambling regulator will ask a court to force the award of the next national lottery contract to Czech newcomer Allwyn, in a move that critics say risks depriving good causes of up to £800m .

The Gambling Commission awarded Allwyn the fourth national lottery license earlier this year, prompting an immediate legal challenge from Camelot licensee and media mogul Richard Desmond, who also lost in the competition for the license lucrative.

The losing bidders take their case to the High Court in October, with the Gambling Commission prevented from moving forward with preparations to transfer the license to Allwyn in the meantime.

On Wednesday, the regulator’s lawyers will ask a High Court judge to lift the temporary block preventing it from signing an ‘enabling agreement’ with Allwyn, which they say risks delaying the transition and jeopardizing payments to good causes.

But a source close to the legal battle said it was the regulator’s haste to push through Allwyn’s license that risked cutting payments to charities and sporting institutions.

They said the commission’s request to lift the block would, if successful, make it virtually impossible to reverse the allotment to Allwyn, which is ultimately owned by Czech billionaire Karel Komárek.

Camelot, its technology provider IGT, and Desmond would still pursue legal challenges, but would actually pursue damages rather than reversal of the decision.

The combined damages claim could cost the regulator up to £800million, they said, including costs incurred during the lengthy tender process.

Camelot would also seek compensation for revenue it earned from running the lottery between 2024 and 2034.

“The Gambling Commission essentially gambles with money intended for good causes,” the source said, adding that it would be more prudent for the commission to extend Camelot’s existing license for another six months, in order to allow the trial to continue.

If Camelot succeeded in its challenge, it would then continue to operate the lottery and no compensation would be paid. If he loses, the price at Allwyn would stand.

The commission previously granted Camelot a temporary extension, when Sir Richard Branson launched an ultimately unsuccessful bid in 2000 to overturn the decision to give the Canadian company the second national lottery license.

A Camelot spokesperson declined to comment.

A Gambling Commission spokesperson said: “We are confident that we have run a fair and robust competition.

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“The lottery is a national treasure and since its launch in 1994 players have collectively raised over £45billion for 660,000 good causes across the UK, transforming lives and contributing to the arts, sport, heritage and communities.

“A delay in the implementation of the fourth license poses a significant risk that could decrease funds for these causes.

Former Camelot chief executive Dame Dianne Thompson wrote to the commission last weekend warning it to drop its bid to move forward with Allwyn’s license in order “to avoid any unseemly and unnecessary haste in legal proceedings and to eliminate the risk for good causes”.

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