International Game Technology (IGT) has initiated legal action against the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), reviving the dispute over the National Lottery’s next 10-year contract.
According to The Times, the Italian company, the technology partner of outgoing National Lottery steward Camelot, is appealing under European human rights laws, claiming that it has lost ‘marketable goodwill’ to the transition as operator of retail lottery ticket machines.
The legal dispute faced by Allwyn, which is set to become the new National Lottery manager on 1 January 2024 with the transition process due to start next month, had been thought to have been resolved since November.
IGT participated alongside Camelot in the lawsuit against the UKGC, attempting to overturn the regulator’s decision to award Allwyn – a Czech based multinational operator – the fourth National Lottery licence, covering the next 10 years.
The High Court temporarily blocked the Commission’s enabling rights, but sas dropped back in September, allowing the regulator to formally award the licence to Allwyn 14 days later.
In the months since, Allwyn has been able to further consolidate its position as market leader in the UK lottery space by acquiring Camelot UK from its Canadian parent company, the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan (OTPP).
Allwyn expects to close the takeover by the end of the current quarter, whilst its Chairman, Robert Chvatal, has highlighted the development as breaking down barriers in the transition process between the respective third and fourth licence holders.
However, IGT’s renewed lawsuit could preverbal spanner in the works and once again cause some delays for the UKGC, Allwyn and Camelot, as well as – according to The Times – potentially draining money from the Good Causes fund.
The company could receive up to £600m in damages if its litigation is successful, which would be payable from the National Lottery’s existing Good Causes fund.
This has earned criticism from MPs such as Ben Bradley and Sally-Ann Hart, the latter of whom was quoted by the paper as saying: “The fact that charity money raised by the British public for local causes and projects is at risk of being raided by a partner of Camelot using the ECHR is completely unacceptable.”
Should IGT’s lawsuit fail, Camelot will still not be entirely out of the woods, as the incoming operator faces political pressure to maintain a high standard on Good Causes funding.
Management of the National Lottery’s charitable programmes was a key area of debate during the Fourth Licence Contest, with Olympians and Paralympians such as Adam Peaty, Lauren Rowles and Ellie Robinson appearing before a parliamentary committee in December 2021 to share their views and experiences on the issue.
A recent report by a cross-party group of MPs found that Camelot had yielded ‘mixed results’ Good Causes funding, and called on Allwyn to make a greater financial contribution to GambleAware as the next National Lottery manager.