The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has this morning named Allwyn Entertainment as its ‘preferred applicant’ to operate the fourth National Lottery licence beginning 2024.
Launched in August 2020, the Commission’s 18-month tender declares a transformative outcome that will see Allwyn replace Camelot UK as the steward of the National Lottery – a position it has held since 1994.
Led by Sir Keith Mills, Allwyn’s bid was reported to have promoted a new vision of the National Lottery that will “innovate its products and channels” and will lead to “increased contributions to good causes, subject to the protection of participants and propriety”.
The UKGC underlined that it has selected the best partner, completing an “open and robust competition which received four applications at the final stage” – the highest number of applications since the first National Lottery licence was first awarded in 1994.
Competing to win the multi-billion tender, Allwyn’s bid beat the suitors of Italian lottery operator Sisal SPA, The New Lottery Company operated by media group Northern-&-Shell and Camelot UK as its existing operator.
Declaring its outcome, the competition has entered a legal standstill period of 10-days, that will proceed a 22-month transition period to allow Allwyn to take charge of the National Lottery’s operations and services.
Andrew Rhodes, Gambling Commission Chief Executive Officer, said: “In its lifetime, the National Lottery has raised more than £45 billion for good causes and is rightly seen as a great national asset.
“I am confident that the success of the competition will lead to a highly successful fourth licence – one that maximises returns to good causes, promotes innovation, delivers against our statutory duties, and which ultimately protects the unique status of the National Lottery.
“We look forward to working with all parties to ensure a smooth handover.”
Responding to the Commission’s decision, Allwyn – formerly known as SAZKA Group before rebranding to its current identity, which previously served as its UK operating name – asserted that it was eagerly awaiting “transforming” the National Lottery.
The acquisition of the UK lottery operating rights marks a major expansion of the Czech firm’s cross-European portfolio, which also includes its flagship SAZKA lottery in the Czech Republic, OPAP in Greece and Cyprus, Lotteries Austria and Lotto ‘Gioco’ Italia.
Last month, Allwyn disclose that it had lined-up former Sainsbury’s Plc CEO Justin King (CBE) to serve as Chairman of its UK business, should it win the National Lottery competition.
“We welcome today’s statement by the Gambling Commission that we have been selected as the Preferred Applicant for the Fourth National Lottery Licence,” a statement from company founder Karel Komárek read.
“Our proposal was judged to be the best way of growing returns to good causes by revitalising The National Lottery in a safe and sustainable way.
“The appointment of Allwyn will breathe fresh life into The National Lottery. In Allwyn, the Gambling Commission has selected a strong team with an impressive track record of improving lotteries. We will immediately work to deliver our comprehensive transition plan and look forward to transforming The National Lottery, making it better for everyone.”
Named by the Commission as ‘reserve applicant’, Camelot UK issued an immediate response this morning by CEO Nigel Railton who stated that “we are now carefully reviewing the Gambling Commission’s evaluation before deciding on our next steps.”
“I’m incredibly disappointed by today’s announcement, but we still have a critical job to do – as our current licence runs until February 2024,” Railton stated.
“I’m enormously grateful to our 1,000-plus employees who have been unwavering in delivering record-breaking results during the current licence. And I know they remain absolutely determined to build on our four and a half years of successive sales growth – which has seen us achieve record sales in each of the last two years, resulting in the best-ever returns to Good Causes from ticket sales last year.”
The Commission underlined that it was solely responsible for the decision to award the National Lottery licence, running the competition’s framework and duties overseen by its board of commissioners.
John Tanner, UKGC’s Executive Director and Senior Responsible Owner for the competition, concluded: “The Commission is grateful to all four applicants for their engagement in the competition. We were impressed by the overall standard of applications, including the range and quality of innovation proposed, and the high level of confidence and ambition demonstrated for the prospects of the National Lottery under the fourth licence.”