Allwyn Named UK Lottery Licensee Over Incumbent Camelot

March 15, 2022
Allwyn Entertainment has been named preferred applicant for the fourth UK gambling licence, replacing Camelot, which has run the National Lottery since 1994.


Allwyn Entertainment has been named preferred applicant for the fourth UK gambling licence, replacing Camelot, which has run the National Lottery since 1994.

Camelot UK Lotteries Group has been named reserve applicant, the Gambling Commission announced today (March 15).

Other applicants were Italy’s Sisal, now owned by Flutter, and Richard Desmond’s New Lottery Company. The current licence expires in 2024.

Czech Republic-based Allwyn is Europe’s largest lottery operator and owns OPAP, which runs lotteries and gambling operations in Greece and Cyprus, as well as being the majority owner of Casinos Austria, which runs the Austrian lottery. The company also runs lotteries in Italy and the Czech Republic.

Canadian-owned Camelot has been the first and so far only National Lottery licensee, running the game since its inception in 1994.

“Our priority was to run a competition that would attract a strong field of candidates,” said Gambling Commission chief executive Andrew Rhodes. “Having received the most applications since 1994, it is clear that we've achieved just that”.

“I am confident that the success of the competition will lead to a highly successful fourth licence — one that maximises returns to good causes, promotes innovation, delivers against our statutory duties, and which ultimately protects the unique status of the National Lottery.”

“We look forward to working with all parties to ensure a smooth handover.”

All applicants are considered fit and proper, and “we are also satisfied that no application is impacted by sanctions related to the conflict in Ukraine”, the commission said.

In a statement, Allwyn said it “welcomed” the announcement.

“Our proposal was judged to be the best way of growing returns to good causes by revitalising The National Lottery in a safe and sustainable way.

“In Allwyn, the Gambling Commission has selected a strong team with an impressive track record of improving lotteries. We will immediately work to deliver our comprehensive transition plan and look forward to transforming The National Lottery, making it better for everyone,” the company said.

The Czech gambling firm, formerly known as Sazka Group, changed its name in December.

Allywyn has reportedly promised to more than double contributions to charity over the next decade, to £38bn from Camelot’s £12bn since 2012.

It hired entrepreneur Keith Mills, who helped organise the 2012 London Olympics, and former Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King to help shepherd its UK venture.

A ten-day standstill period starting today will be followed by a 22-month transition to the new licence, the commission said.

Camelot CEO Nigel Railton said he was “incredibly disappointed by today’s announcement”.

“We’re now carefully reviewing the Gambling Commission’s evaluation before deciding on our next steps,” he said.

Commentators have predicted that whichever company won the licence competition, at least one of its losing rivals would attempt to launch a judicial review to overturn the decision.

The new licence, with a fixed ten-year life, will include mechanisms to ensure profits are more closely linked to contributions to good causes, the regulator said.

The licensee will have more power to adapt products to follow changing technology, regulation and consumer tastes, as long as they are in line with licence obligations, the commission said.

Additional reporting by Joe Ewens.

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