The former boss of lottery operator Camelot has urged the gambling commission to delay the transfer of the firm’s licence to new operator Allwyn, as the costly legal battle could cut resources for good causes.
Dame Dianne Thompson has written in a letter to the commission first reported by the Mail on Sunday that a legal fight would drain resources away from the causes that the lottery is designed to fund.
“The transition timeline would remain unaltered, the legal case could be properly heard and – critically – any risk of a massive bill for good causes would be removed at a stroke”, she wrote.
“I fully understand the Commission’s enthusiasm for ensuring that their preferred applicant has as much time as possible to enact a successful transition.”
“Transition is a complex and risky process – as I know only too well – that will clearly not benefit from a truncated timeline”.
She added: “I’m equally sure that no one – least of all the Gambling Commission – would wish to risk taking up to one billion pounds from good causes, particularly during a cost of living crisis.”
In March, the Czech-backed operator Allwyn was named the preferred applicant for the fourth National Lottery licence.
Allwyn’s key pitch was to drop ticket prices and increase the amount of money going towards good causes and UK sporting activities.
A gambling commission spokesperson told the Mail on Sunday that they could not comment on specifics due to ongoing litigation but that they were “confident that we have a run a fair and robust competition”.
The first in what could be a series of legal hearings will be heard this week. Camelot chief executive Nigel Railton said the commission had not responded appropriately to questions about how and why the licence was given to Allwyn.
“We are therefore left with no choice but to ask the court to establish what happened,” he said last month.
With Camelot’s contract set to expire in February 2024, there are concerns that a proper handover may not be possible if legal proceedings drag on.