The Countrywide Lottery operator Camelot is on keep track of to retain its lucrative licence following it gained the endorsement of the gambling regulator, The Telegraph can reveal.
In a shift probably to result in a final spherical of intensive campaigning by rivals, it is understood that the Gambling Fee has recommended that Camelot be awarded “preferred bidder” standing.
It comes after the operator, owned by the Canadian fund the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Strategy, scored optimum on a scorecard made to judge the merits of the bids. It paves the way for Camelot to maintain the National Lottery licence it initial gained in 1994 until finally at minimum 2034.
The Gambling Commission has produced its advice to Nadine Dorries, the Society Secretary, who has powers to award chosen bidder status just before a closing award of the licence is manufactured by Variety 10. A formal announcement is envisioned afterwards this month, but sources cautioned the timeline could change.
Officers are on significant notify over the really delicate process. All sides anticipate whatever last choice is produced to confront a Significant Court docket obstacle from the shedding bidders.
Information of the Gambling Commission’s suggestion is probable to spark last-ditch efforts by Allwyn Enjoyment, a gambling operator controlled by the Czech strength billionaire Karel Komarek, to wrest the Nationwide Lottery away from Camelot. It has retained lawful advisers from the Metropolis firms Freshfields and Hen & Bird.
The Gambling Commission’s scorecard approach is intended partly to display the objectivity of the course of action beneath possible authorized scrutiny.
All bidders have used millions of lbs drawing up their bids and campaigning. Allwyn has expended intensely on promoting, for occasion.
Two other bids, 1 from the Italian lottery operator Sisal and one more from media mogul Richard Desmond are also on monitor for disappointment. Sisal’s failure comes despite an eleventh-hour charm by its prospective new proprietor Flutter Amusement, the FTSE 100 bookmaker guiding Betfair, to the Gambling Fee.
The fourth competitiveness for the National Lottery licence, delayed by a 12 months mainly because of coronavirus, has been shrouded in secrecy. Interested functions have been banned from lobbying or speaking publicly about their bid or that of their rivals.
Camelot’s anticipated victory is its initially beneath overseas ownership. The operator was obtained by the Ontario Academics Pension Prepare for £400m in 2010. It was earlier owned by a British-led consortium that involved Cadbury Schweppes and banknote maker De La Rue.
The prospect of a legal problem means there could nevertheless be a new twist in the race to run the Nationwide Lottery until eventually 2034.
In 2000, Sir Richard Branson appeared to be in pole place to seize management of the Countrywide Lottery immediately after authorities opened distinctive talks with the Virgin Team founder. But Camelot emerged victorious following ministers questioned for the bids to be reexamined.
The Nationwide Lottery ranks among the UK’s most lucrative public sector contracts. The fourth licence, which starts in 2024, is forecast to make a lot more than £80bn in ticket product sales. With the operator having an regular of .5p in each and every pound, this usually means mixture profits of all over £400m.
The Gambling Commission declined to comment.