Flutter Confirms Desire To Run UK National Lottery

February 7, 2022
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The UK's biggest bookmaker has said it wants the National Lottery back under the control of a domestic operator in a late bid to win the licence.

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The UK's biggest bookmaker has said it wants the National Lottery back under the control of a domestic operator in a late bid to win the licence.

Peter Jackson, the chief executive of Flutter Entertainment, is understood to have written to the Gambling Commission to emphasise his desire to run the lottery after agreeing to buy Italian operator Sisal, one of the key contenders trying to win the licence.

“The Gambling Commission should have no doubt as to Flutter’s commitment through Sisal to the future success of the lottery,” he said in the letter. The move is believed to have been made in response to a request from the Gambling Commission, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

Incumbent operator Camelot and Czech operator Sazka are reportedly leading the race to win the licence.

However, the appeal of a British-owned operator and the strong proven online technology Flutter has established are thought to work in its favour, as more customers play the lottery online.

The bid has also garnered some support from gambling harm campaigners. James Pearce of safer gambling group BetterRisk said: "In terms of the UK operator community, Flutter are at the leading edge in terms of pursuing a progressive and proactive approach to safer gambling so, if the lottery is to be ultimately run by an existing UK gambling operator, they could be considered the most suitable."

The Gambling Commission is thought to be just weeks from making its final decision on the licence, the UK's single biggest public sector contract, which will run for up to a decade from 2024, with revenue expected to top £80bn over that period.

A preferred and reserve bidder will be selected, with the other two parties missing out. This will be followed by a ten-day "standstill" period before the decision is rubber-stamped.

The government has a parliamentary window of between February 21 and March 31 to make an announcement on the winner to the public, it is understood.

The Gambling Commission will score contenders on the various areas of their bid in a process designed to limit any legal challenge against the decision by losing bidders.

A source told the Sunday Telegraph: "Everyone expects a judicial review. That makes the scorecard all the more important."

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, co-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm, raised concerns about Flutter owning the company that operates the National Lottery. He said: "There would have to be absolutely stringent safeguards."

Camelot is bidding for the licence for the first time since the operator was sold to a Canadian pension fund by a British-led consortium in 2010.

The fourth bidder, Richard Desmond, the former owner of the Express and Star newspapers who runs the Health Lottery, is seen as an outsider.

Flutter and Sisal declined to comment to the Sunday Telegraph.

Meanwhile, former Olympic gold medallist Lord Sebastian Coe has left the House of Lords permanently after taking up a job with Sazka.

Lord Coe said that his role will be to help advise the company on its wider commercial ambitions, rather than advising on the lottery bid.

Sazka has previously said: "Seb has not been, nor will be involved at all in the UK bid as this would breach the rules."

A source denied Lord Coe’s departure from parliament was related to the Sazka role, but instead down to his travel commitments as president of World Athletics.

His departure comes after he took up a role as non-executive director of Sazka Entertainment AG. It has also enlisted Sir Keith Mills, chairman of the Nectar and Air Miles loyalty schemes, as chairman of the bid vehicle Allwyn.

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