Lotter Handover Faces Criticism From Richard Desmond

June 5, 2024

Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell group has criticised the “seriously flawed” procurement process that awarded the National Lottery licence to the Czech gambling group Allwyn Entertainment, according to statements made in a London court today. The company and its subsidiary, The New Lottery Company, filed a procurement lawsuit against the Gambling Commission in February, challenging the decision made two years ago.

During a hearing at the High Court on Wednesday, Northern & Shell’s lead barrister, Michael Bowsher KC, described the process as “failed” and asserted that the business would have won if it had been given a “real chance in a fair process.” Northern & Shell alleges that the Gambling Commission failed to ensure equal treatment of the applicants and provided “unfairly favourable treatment to Allwyn,” according to its written arguments.

However, the regulator’s lead barrister, Sarah Hannaford KC, countered these claims, stating that there was no dispute as “The New Lottery Company did extremely badly in the competition.” She explained that the company failed the first test in the procurement process, which prevented them from progressing further.

Representatives from Allwyn, which took control of the lottery in February, and Camelot, the previous licence holder, were also present at the hearing. A trial date has not yet been set.

The Gambling Commission has faced other legal challenges over the decision to grant Allwyn the licence. Camelot filed a claim shortly after the decision, with International Game Technology (IGT) joining the case as it provided operational software to Camelot, though IGT later dropped its legal challenge. In November 2022, Allwyn struck a deal to buy Camelot, which was completed early last year.