Someone’s Left the Cake Out in the Rain, Camelot Will Never Get The Recipe Again

In this world of luck, of ever-changing pronouns and mixed metaphors, “It Could Be You!”

But, as Camelot, the improbable host of one of the world’s richest lotteries, are hit off the playing field by a double-whammy, we’re beginning to understand it’s definitely not “Them!”

Camelot’s hope of running the UK National Lottery for the next decade has now been crushed by a High Court ruling that affirms the recent award of the licence to Czech operator Allwyn Entertainment was just and proper.

On March 15 the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), official regulator of the British gambling industry, announced that Allwyn–owned by billionaire Karel Komarek–was the “Preferred Applicant” for the fourth National Lottery licence, displacing Camelot, who have run the UK lotto since its inception in 1994 after winning all three previous licensing rounds.

“We remain resolute that we have run a fair and robust competition, and that our evaluation has been carried out fairly and lawfully in accordance with our statutory duties,” the UKGC stressed in a statement issued after the ruling by Mrs Justice O’Farrell this week (June 29).

Nevertheless, like a sore loser refusing to concede defeat, Camelot is still determined to press on with its increasingly desperate allegation that the last licensing round was flawed by pursuing a claim for some £500m (US$607.7m/€581.4m) in damages in further court action scheduled for this October.

Meantime, an earlier, equally flawed, gambit of claiming that billionaire Komarek is a Putin flunky on the flimsy premise that one of his firms in the Czech Republic ran a joint gas storage facility in the country with Russia’s state Gazprom company has also been shredded.

Camelot, owned somewhat incongruously by the pension fund of Canada’s Ontario Teachers’ Union—please Miss, or should that be Ms., what numbers should I play?—has had its snout in the trough for long enough.

Time to Say Goodbye

It’s time to give another “big hog” a go at making “loadsamoney” while, hopefully, also raising billions for good causes and sports sponsorship in the UK.

This was the magic pitch that got Allwyn, which runs lotteries in Austria, Cyprus, Greece, Italy and its home Czech Republic, over the line.

The group, formerly known as Sazka, is promising to generate up to £10 billion a year (US$12.1bn/€11.6bn) in across-the-board lottery ticket sales in the UK – and raise more than Camelot for charity “through further innovation and investment”.

Make no bones about it, to mix our animal metaphors, the National Lottery is arguably the UK’s biggest cash cow and certainly represents the largest public sector contract in the nation.

Barring misadventure, Allwyn will formally take over from Camelot in February 2024.

The outfit is preparing for its new enhanced role by planning to buy an American Special Purpose Acquisition Company, or SPAC, called Cohn Robbins Holdings Corp. that will allow it to list on the New York Stock Exchange and take the company truly global.

Yet with so much of the world facing economic uncertainty it is equally unknown just how much our current financial crisis will impact UK lottery sales.

Year-on-year, to the period ending March 2022, British lotto sales fell by around three per cent to $8.1 billion (US$9.8bn/€9.4bn), for example.

Everywhere, people are changing their spending habits.

Stick, twist or quit: Only time will reveal the new recipe for lotto success.

Camelot have had their cake. And now they can eat it.

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