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Richard Desmond Joins Camelot in UKGC Challenge over National Lottery

Updated by Ralph Trayfalgar

UK publishing group Northern & Shell, one of the companies owned by billionaire Richard Desmond, have filed an appeal to the UK Gambling Commission over the recent National Lottery license fiasco. 

Desmond’s companies are also joined by UK gambling giant IGT in the appeal, making them the third firm to challenge the Gambling Commission on the awarding of the National Lottery license to Allwyn.

At the end of last month, the commission revealed that Allwyn had won the very lucrative National Lottery contract in the fourth bidding round, thereby bringing Camelot’s 27-year run as the lottery’s operator to an end. 

Currently, Camelot’s operator license is set to expire in 2024, which would mark 30 years from the lottery’s inception in 1994.

But Camelot, which is owned by a pension fund for Ontario teachers, and its gambling technology provider IGT have both taken their cases to the Supreme Court in an attempt to overturn the commission’s ruling.

It was previously unknown whether Northern & Shell, which runs the Health Lottery, had submitted a proposal, and there are no other publicly available facts about the former porn baron’s procurement claim at this time. 

Another bidder, Italian operator Sisal, which was purchased during the competition by Pokerstars casino owner Flutter, is also considering joining Camelot’s action.

In its announcement on April 1, Camelot stated that “The competition and our evaluation have been carried out fairly and lawfully in accordance with our statutory duties, and we are confident that a court would come to that conclusion.”

Allwyn is owned by Czech billionaire Karel Komárek, and the company already operates lotteries in the Czech Republic, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, and Austria, among other countries. It enlisted notable British businesspeople to oversee its candidacy, including Sir Keith Mills, who was in charge of London’s successful bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, and Justin King, the former CEO of Sainsbury’s, to help it win the competition. 

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