The operator of UK National Lottery Camelot suffered a legal setback Tuesday after a London judge ruled against its request to fast-track legal proceedings against the Gambling Commission.
No Expediting of Legal Proceedings
Judge David Waksman of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales stated that to “jump the gun” and expedite proceedings against the UK gambling regulator over its decision to award the next National Lottery license to Allwyn would be wrong.
Following a decision by the Gambling Commission in mid-March to award the fourth National Lottery license to Czech-based operator Allwyn Entertainment, Camelot, the holder of the license since the inception of the lottery in 1994, challenged the decision in court, claiming the regulator has favored its competitor. Later on, Camelot’s technology supplier International Game Technology (IGT) launched a separate case against the Gambling Commission to protect the interests of its business partner.
Judge Waksman noted in an oral judgment it would be inappropriate to consider expediting both proceedings at this stage before resolving the issue of the automatic license suspension.
Commenting on the suggestion by Camelot’s counsel that a fast-track trial is needed if the High Court rules that a new license bidding process should start, the judge stated that if a trial is to start in two months, it would be rushed and unfocused and would heap undue pressure on the parties.
To Camelot’s complaints that it had been the Gambling Commission’s delays to the procurement process which put pressure on the timetable, Judge Waksman outlined his job in a case management hearing did not involve punishing the Gambling Commission by “making orders that are unfair and inappropriate.”
Recently, a third party, billionaire Richard Desmond-owned companies Northern & Shell and its subsidiary, the New Lottery Company, have also filed a procurement claim over the UK gambling regulator’s lottery license decision but Judge Waksman stated that their claim was confidential and not necessarily tied to the other claims.
Court Hearing in Three Weeks
Waksman set a court hearing on the status of the lottery license in three weeks as the Gambling Commission has applied to lift a suspension on its ability to transfer operations from Camelot to Allwyn, and if it is successful, it would mean that claims from Camelot and IGT will be for damages only and not affecting the license decision.
On its behalf, Camelot will argue that the Gambling Commission’s mishandling of the scorecard process resulted in breaches of its duty to fairly assess each bid in terms of categories such as technology, planned returns and risk factors.