Posted on: February 11, 2022, 08:39h.
Last updated on: February 11, 2022, 08:39h.
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) isn’t happy right now. It has rejected a report this week that shows it favors Camelot to retain its hold on the National Lottery.
The appointment for who will take the baton and oversee the UK’s National Lottery is long overdue. An announcement was on the calendar for late last year, but this was later moved to this month or next.
The incumbent, Camelot, ranks at the top of the list for retaining its position. However, there is also solid competition from Flutter Entertainment, through its recent-acquired Sisal Group.
Also in the running is Sazka Group’s Allwyn Entertainment, which already operates a number of lotteries throughout Europe. Last on the list is publisher Richard Desmond, although his chances of winning are about as good as the Cincinnati Bengals scoring seven touchdowns in Super Bowl LVI this Sunday.
The top three contenders all have solid track records in the industry, which should make for a tight race. However, The Telegraph reported this week that the UKGC was leaning toward Camelot. It reportedly shared its opinion with PM Boris Johnson.
Not so, according to the regulator. It fired off a retort after the story surfaced, dismissing claims that Camelot is its preferred bidder. To drop a hint at the possible winner ahead of schedule would break the UKGC’s charter of maintaining the competition in “absolute secrecy to protect its integrity.”
Decision-Making Crunch Time
The UKGC will present its final choice to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) soon. DCMS Secretary Nadine Dorries will review the recommendation and then announce the winner. However, there is no provision for when the decision has to be made public.
We are still in the process of evaluation and today’s Daily Telegraph piece is simply based on false and inaccurate information. We have asked them to remove the article in its current form from the newspaper’s website,” said a UKGC statement.
Choosing Camelot, in some regards, makes sense. It already has the experience and know-how behind the National Lottery. At the same time, however, it has been the target of allegations of taking in more money through lottery purchases, while giving less to worthy causes.
Allwyn, which just tapped former Sainsbury Chief Justin King as its lottery operations lead, has managed lotteries in several countries. Among these are Austria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Greece and Italy. That experience also makes it a strong contender.
Flutter comes in through its ongoing purchase of Sisal, which operates lotteries in Italy, Morocco and Turkey. It was the first Italian company to enter its domestic gambling segment after Italy began introducing concessions.
Flutter tried this week to claim that the lottery should be operated by a “domestic” company. It was a weak attempt to give itself an edge. Because Sisal is not domestic and Flutter has said it will keep lottery operations at an arm’s length, it would be no more domestic than Camelot, which is owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.
At this point, there’s no clear front-runner. With the exception of Desmond, there are some great candidates. The competition is in its final stretch, though, with a decision coming at any time.