New UK Lottery Boss Says Digital Revamp Is Key

September 5, 2022
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Allwyn is planning to rejuvenate the UK national lottery with a digital revamp, its boss has said, a week before its ongoing legal tussle with Camelot has its next day in court.

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Allwyn is planning to rejuvenate the UK national lottery with a digital revamp, its boss has said, a week before its ongoing legal tussle with Camelot has its next day in court.

Chief executive Robert Chvatal said the operator would be judged on how it re-energised the lottery.

The operator still faces a High Court case later this month, after rival Camelot challenged both the decision to give Allwyn the lottery licence and the Gambling Commission's procurement process.

Chvatal, a former T-Mobile boss, said: "I left telecoms because they were becoming a utility rather than changing the world as they had done at the beginning.

“For me, lotteries were like a sleeping beauty: nice and relevant for society but they had been undermanaged."

He said modernisation can be achieved through the right combination of brand, games and "the best technology".

"Players never need to miss a small win,” he told The Times. “It should look and feel modern and slick rather than dated and tired, both in retail and online. This is what we do ... in many markets."

Chvatal, who hopes to regain some of the players who have deserted the lottery, added: "We believe that no monopoly in the world can guarantee you relevance to the consumer.

"People will be judging us on how we re-energise and reinvigorate the lottery here."

He claims he can give scratchcards a makeover, arguing they have been “demonised” in the UK because of their association with gambling addiction.

But he insists that marketing can make a difference — at Christmas, scratchcards in Allywn’s home market of the Czech Republic resemble seasonal cards and are seen as gifts that allow people to "dream a little".

Chvatal was limited in what he said about the ongoing legal battle with Camelot, but revealed about the win: "In our bid, we tried to bring the best of Europe to the UK with a competent British team. I can only say that elsewhere we are in the business of making lotteries better and running contemporary lotteries from A to Z, like the scope of licence in the UK."

"There's not much time to waste [with the transition]. The biggest victim could be the lottery itself," he said.

It comes as Allwyn — which operates lotteries in Austria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Cyprus and Italy — is poised for a $9.3bn US listing on the New York Stock Exchange, ahead of potential expansion in America.

Industry estimates suggest that the ten-year UK licence could generate at least £80bn in sales.

In its battle with Camelot, the next legal hearing on September 13 and 14 is key. It is to assess whether Camelot can appeal against the High Court's decision to allow the licence award to Allwyn to go ahead.

More than £1bn for good causes could be lost over legal action alleging the new licence to run the national lottery was awarded unlawfully, according to court filings.

The Gambling Commission warns in a legal submission obtained by the Observer: "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 raised around £1.9bn for good causes in 2020-21, donated by 12 distributors, including UK Sport.

Allwyn is due to take over the running of the lottery from February 2024, but will not have time to prepare if Camelot succeeds in its court appeal to delay the handover.

A Camelot spokesperson said the Gambling Commission was risking a damages claim of hundreds of millions of pounds by trying to award the licence before the legal challenges were exhausted.

An Allwyn spokesperson said: "The hearing in September represents the last opportunity to avoid even more losses to good causes, on top of the damage that has already been caused by the delay so far."

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