UK Gambling Minister Says Treasury Would Pay £600m Damages

July 6, 2022
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​​​​​​​If Camelot is successful in its current bid to be awarded up to £600m in damages, the UK Treasury will likely end up footing the bill, according to Chris Philp, the minister in charge of gambling policy.

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If Camelot is successful in its current bid to be awarded up to £600m in damages, the UK Treasury will likely end up footing the bill, according to Chris Philp, the minister in charge of gambling policy.

Philp explained to a Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) Committee in Westminster on Tuesday (July 5) that he is “very disappointed” Camelot is pursuing litigation that “could come out of good causes funded by the Treasury”, as it is the custodian of public funds.

In March, the Gambling Commission awarded the next lottery concession to Allwyn, formerly Sazka Group, marking the first time since its inception in 1994 that the draw will not be run by Camelot. The regulator also won a recent court hearing lifting a stay on Allwyn’s preparations.

In this fifth session of the “What next for the National Lottery? Inquiry”, Philp was told by the committee it received a letter from Camelot after its last session on June 30, during which Gambling Commission chief executive Andrew Rhodes spoke about the likelihood of increased contributions to good causes under the fourth National Lottery licence.

Camelot would be willing to receive non-monetary compensation, i.e., the award of the fourth National Lottery licence, according to the committee, which argued there are still doubts about who will run the fourth licence due to the ongoing litigation around it, with no clear end date in sight.

When questioned about how the fourth licence will ensure more donations, Philp said the new structure is “much more simple” and incentivises the operator to maximise profit and money going to good causes as it's “essentially the source of their own profit”.

However, Philp and Ben Dean, director of sport, gambling and the platinum jubilee at the DCMS, were left stumped when asked why credit cards can still be used to purchase lottery tickets in retail outlets when consumers are purchasing them with non-gambling products.

Gambling on credit cards is broadly banned in the UK, but they can also be used to buy lottery tickets and scratchcards where payment is sent to gambling businesses in the post.

Allwyn’s reported connections to the Kremlin were also scrutinised, with Philp saying the DCMS received two assurances it would not face sanctions via background checks and “significant government vetting”.

Philp provided no update on the expected release of the Gambling Act review white paper, which he hopes will be published “quite imminently”.

Rhodes faced similar questions just days earlier during his session with the committee, alongside John Tanner, an executive director at the commission.

However, Rhodes did expand on issues beyond the intended scope of the inquiry, such as affordability, the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms and even promised the committee letters to address questions he was unable to answer in detail.

“We expect statements on what the government would like to see on affordability checks, if that is part of the white paper and that is what we have agreed to do,” Rhodes said.

However, the chair of the committee was left unimpressed when he asked Rhodes about the metrics used to measure the success of the health impact made by the Gambling Commission's £40m income.

“All you have, seemingly, are generalised statistics that would be available anywhere. There is nothing there to say that what you are doing as an organisation has made a blind bit of difference to the public good. There is nothing you can point to,” chair of the committee Julian Knight MP said.

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