In a court defeat on Tuesday, the operator of the United Kingdom’s National Lottery Camelot was denied its plea to have legal proceedings against the Gambling Commission moved forward more quickly.
In a recent ruling, High Court Judge David Waksman indicated that it would be incorrect to “jump the gun” and hasten proceedings against the UK gaming authority over its decision to give the next National Lottery license to Allwyn in the wake of the decision. A legal challenge was launched against the Gambling Commission’s decision, made in mid-March, to award the fourth National Lottery license to Czech-based operator Allwyn Entertainment. Camelot, which has held the license since the lottery’s inception in 1994, argued that the regulator had favored its competitor and that the decision should be overturned. The Gambling Commission was later sued by Camelot’s technology supplier, International Game Technology (IGT), in order to defend the interests of its business partner.
In an oral judgment, Judge Waksman stated that it would be improper to contemplate accelerating both processes at this time until the matter of the automatic license suspension had been resolved. After hearing Camelot’s lawyers argue that a fast-track trial is required if the High Court rules in favor of a new license bidding procedure, the judge remarked that if a trial were to begin in two months, the proceedings would be rushed and unfocused, putting excessive pressure on the parties involved.
In response to Camelot’s accusations that the Gambling Commission’s delays in the procurement process had placed pressure on the timeline, Judge Waksman explained that his mandate did not include punishing the Gambling Commission by “making orders that are unfair and improper.” The New Lottery Company and Northern & Shell, both owned by billionaire Richard Desmond, have recently filed a procurement claim against the UK gambling regulator over the decision to grant a lottery license. However, Judge Waksman stated that their claim was confidential and not necessarily related to the other claims filed.
As a result of the Gambling Commission’s application to lift a suspension on its ability to transfer operations from Camelot to Allwyn, Waksman has scheduled a court hearing on the status of the lottery license for three weeks from now. If the application is successful, it will mean that claims from Camelot and IGT will be limited to damages and will not have an impact on the license decision. As a result of the Gambling Commission’s handling of the scorecard process, Camelot will argue that the commission failed to uphold its obligation to objectively evaluate each offer in terms of categories such as technology, expected returns, and risk issues.