Operators of digital lottery syndicates have been handed a severe blow by the High Court of England & Wales, which has rejected the combined appeal of Lottoland and Multi Lotto UK to allow bets on ‘EuroMillions’ draws in other countries.
In February of this year, Lottoland and Multi Lotto sanctioned a high court appeal against the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sports (DCMS) and its ‘interested parties’ – the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and National Lottery operator Camelot UK.
The digital claimants demanded that DCMS remove 2018 amendments introduced to the ‘Gambling Act 2005’, which would prohibit betting on the outcome of non-UK EuroMillions lottery draws, regulations that were subsequently enforced from 6 April 2018.
Established under the mandate of the ‘National Lottery Act 1993’, and reinforced by the Gambling Act 2005, no third party is allowed to offer betting services, markets or promotions on National Lottery outcomes.
Adhering to UK laws on the National Lottery, remote-based operators such as Lottoland and Multi Lotto have taken bets for EuroMillions – a pan-European lottery game that is not operated by Camelot or governed by the UKGC, but for the outcome of non-UK draws.
However, the DCMS approved UKGC regulations that closed this loophole – namely offering bets on “the outcome of a non-UK EuroMillions draw or on the result of a EuroMillions lottery, regardless of the name given to that lottery or how that lottery is described in any jurisdiction”.
Lottoland and Multi Lotto claimed that DCMS and the UKGC’s amendments had denied their enterprises from offering a service that is controlled beyond their regulatory remits, thus unfairly favouring Camelot services.
The DCMS and UKGC justified the amendments stating that synthetic lotteries undermined the position of Camelot as operator of the National Lottery and UK distributor of EuroMillions tickets, raising money for good causes.
Moving forward with their appeal, Lottoland and Multi Lotto representatives asked UK justices to review three underlying arguments against DCMS and its interested parties:
- Did the 2017/18 amendments breach European Union business laws on member state governments restricting enterprise services – set out under the guiding provisions of ‘The Treaty of a Functioning European Union –TFEU’.
- Did DCMS conduct a fair consultation on the EuroMillions amendments – impartial towards the UKGC and Camelot’s existing positions?
- Could the claimants change the ‘locus (point of appeal)’ bringing their claim to a new judiciary outside of UK courts?
Reviewed by Lord Justice Green and Justice Gross, the UK High Court judged that the amendments had been fair and within DCMS remit as the new regulations did not impose an unlawful restriction on freedom to provide services.
The High Court justices detailed that DCMS could maintain its amendments on the ‘grounds of protecting recognised public policy initiatives’ such as securing National Lottery funds.
In addition, the High Court determined that individual ‘member-state gambling policy is not a harmonised legal discipline’ across EU jurisdictions, allowing DCMS and its associates to carry-out policy corrections/amendments.
With regards to conducting ‘a fair consultation’, the High Court ruled that DCMS had presented a ‘legitimate policy basis’ for its new regulations, that had fulfilled the requirements of an ‘overall proportionality assessment’ required for legislative approval.
Concluding its judgement, the High Court justices, detailed that claimants could move to change court locus granting permission for future judicial reviews. However, locus appeals would merit no legal mandate for changes to the approved regulations… which will simply be dismissed.