Desmond hit by challenge to his lottery

NATIONAL Lottery operator Camelot has launched a judicial review against the Gambling Commission for making a “fundamental error” in approving the Health Lottery, recently launched by Richard Desmond.

Camelot said it has been in “ongoing correspondence” with the Commission since the Health Lottery was founded in September by Desmond’s Northern and Shell, which owns Channel 5 and the Daily Express, but had not received a satisfactory response.

Camelot chief executive Dianne Thompson (pictured) said the law only allows for one national lottery, alongside smaller local draws.

But she claimed the Health Lottery contravenes this legislation as it is branded, advertised and televised across the nation, with tickets available all around the country.

Thompson said: “We believe that the Health Lottery is in clear breach of this crucial market separation envisaged by Parliament.”

She argued the existence of a rival nationwide draw has a “devastating” effect on how much money goes to good causes and the Treasury via the National Lottery.

A letter from the Gambling Commission’s lawyers said Camelot’s claim “has no arguable grounds and no realistic prospect of success” and “requires us to use only the most draconian of our regulatory powers”.

Commission boss Martin Hall called Camelot’s claims “devoid of merit.”

Camelot, represented by Lord Pannick QC, will lodge formal papers with the High Court early next week.

The judicial review will examine whether the process used by the Gambling Commission to reach its decision in approving the Health Lottery was sound. If the court finds in favour of Camelot, the claim can proceed to a hearing.