The National Lottery and the winner of the fourth licence to operate it was the main issue in the gambling community in the UK last week. After the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) announced Allwyn as the Preferred candidate for the operation of the National Lottery, other contenders did not agree with the way the contest was conducted.
Camelot Group, which is the current operator of the National Lottery in the UK, took legal actions against the UKCG, claiming the competition was not transparent and fair. Last week, Richard Desmond also joined Camelot by taking legal actions over the fourth National Lottery licence winner.
A recent investigation by the Mail on Sunday revealed that the head of the Commission that was in charge of the Fourth National Lottery Competition had ties to Russia. This was another reason for the criticism against the UKGC and the fairness of the licence award.
National Lottery Competition Committee Revealed Having Ties to Russia
Following an investigation led by the Mail on Sunday, it was revealed that Stephen Cohen, the man in charge of the National Lottery Competition Committee, had ties to Russia. Cohen spent several years being in charge of the hedge fund of Troika Dialog. He also worked for Andrey Sharonov, a former deputy economy minister of Russia. Troika Dialog was considered a major bank in Russia, which was quite popular thanks to its ties to the huge energy company Gazprom.
In addition to Cohen’s ties to Russia, Allwyn, who was the winner of the Fourth National Lottery Competition, was also revealed to have done business with Gazprom. This was a good enough reason to criticize the UKGC as the regulator ensured that none of the participants would have been affected by the sanctions issued to Russia as a result of its conflict with Ukraine.
Even though the gambling regulator claimed the competition was carried out in a transparent manner, past employment positions of Cohen were nowhere to be found on the Commission’s official website. To reveal the past relations Chone had with Russia, the Mail on Sunday had to go through a serious digging as such information was also not available on his LinkedIn page or government page.
Following the reveal of Cohen’s past employments, MPs asked the UKCG to provide evidence that the licence competition process was indeed conducted in a fair and transparent manner. According to members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling Related Harm, it was crucial to prove the Committee’s decision was fair and free of any bias as the future of the National Lottery depends on it.
Another Entity Takes Legal Actions Over UKGC Decision on New National Lottery Operator
After Allwyn was announced as the winner of the Fourth National Lottery Licence Competition, Camelot was the first constant to file a lawsuit against the UKGC, claiming the competition process was not conducted in a transparent manner. Last week, another entity also decided to take legal action over the winner of the National Lottery licence. Northern & Shell as well as its subsidiary the New Lottery Company, owned by Richard Desmond, decided to take legal actions against the UKGC over the winner of the National Lottery Licence Competition.
The whole competition process was carried out while maintaining strict confidentiality. Prior to the legal actions taken by Northern & Shell, the bid made by the company was not revealed to the public. Sisal, which was bought by Flutter during the competition process, is also considering taking legal actions against the UKGC and is also questioning the decision about the new National Lottery operator.
Recent discoveries about Allwyn’s ties with Russia, as well as Cohen’s relations with the country, also acted as a catalyst to the legal actions taken by several entities participating in the licence competition.
The end of the Fourth National Lottery Licence Competition resulted in Allwyn being chosen as the winner. The Cech billionaire, Karel Komarek, is the owner of the company that also runs the lotteries in the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Austria, Greece, and Italy. Following the Committee’s decision, Allwyn ensured that its plan includes generating higher amounts that will be used to fund “good causes and the public purse”.
Allwyn is due to take on its new position in 2024, putting an end to the 30-year operation of Camelot. Currently, Camelot has 1,000 employees in Watford, all of which were welcomed to join Allwyn after it takes over the operation of the National Lottery. With several entities taking legal actions, however, there are many who hope to overturn the final decision about the new National Lottery licence holder.