Camelot to apply for judicial review of Gambling Commission actions on Health Lottery

Dianne Thompson of Camelot says the move is an attempt to prevent a precedent being set

Dianne Thompson
Dianne Thompson

Camelot, the operator of the National Lottery, will apply next week for a judicial review of the Gambling Commission’s actions in relation to the Health Lottery.

The firm believes the commission should not have granted licences to the 51 society lotteries that operate under the brand of the Health Lottery, which it says is, in effect, another national lottery. It also says the commission has failed to review its decision when asked to do so.

Camelot said today that if its court challenge failed it would look to the government to clarify lottery legislation. It said it had been in correspondence with the commission about the Health Lottery licences since October.

Dianne Thompson, group chief executive of Camelot, said the judicial review application was not an attack on the Health Lottery but an attempt to prevent a precedent that could allow other companies to set up national lotteries while paying out less to good causes and in tax than the National Lottery itself.

"We believe the Health Lottery is doing about £3m a week in sales and £1m to £1.5m of that is coming from the National Lottery, so on that basis good causes stand to lose about £20m a year," she said.

"On these grounds alone, we believe the Gambling Commission was quite simply wrong to license the Health Lottery in the first place and it has compounded its mistake by failing to take proper regulatory action since it was launched in October."

She said it was possible that the National Lottery could lose a third of its revenue to good causes and the Treasury in three years’ time should other commercial operators set up similar schemes.

The National Lottery is obliged to give a bigger percentage of its revenue to the Exchequer and good causes than other UK lotteries.

The National Lottery gives 28p of every £1 it makes to good causes, whereas the Health Lottery awards 20p of every £1. The Health Lottery pays no lottery duty; the National Lottery pays 12p of every £1, said Thompson.

A letter from the Gambling Commission to Camelot, sent last week, said Camelot’s judicial review bid had "no arguable ground and no realistic prospect of success".

It also indicated that it thought Camelot had left it too late to apply for a judicial review because applications must be made within three months of the licences being granted.

A spokesman for the Gambling Commission said today it was "aware that Camelot had indicated that it intended to issue proceedings with regard to a judicial review, as is its right.

"We have nothing further to add at this time."

Martin Hall, chief executive of the Health Lottery, said:" The Gambling Commission has given a very robust response to Camelot's arguments. We agree with the Gambling Commission that they are devoid of merit."

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