National Lottery's future threatened by 'legal loophole', says Camelot head

Dianne Thompson says other national games could follow if Health Lottery is allowed to continue

The Health Lottery
The Health Lottery

- This story was clarified on  27 March: see final paragraph

The National Lottery faces an uncertain future if the Health Lottery is allowed to continue in its existing form, according to Dianne Thompson, group chief executive of the lottery operator Camelot.

In an interview with Third Sector, Thompson says that the Health Lottery has exploited a loophole in the law that others could follow.

If this happened, she says, multiple national games could be established and it would be "the end of a relatively thriving National Lottery" in three or four years’ time.

Camelot is applying for a judicial review of the Gambling Commission’s decision to grant licences to the 51 society lotteries that operate under the Health Lottery brand.

It claims the Health Lottery, established by the media owner Richard Desmond, should not be allowed to operate nationally because the government established the National Lottery as a monopoly in 1993.

It also contends that the Health Lottery operates primarily for competitive purposes, contrary to society law.

"We think what Desmond is doing is illegal, but if it turns out that it is legal then he has found a very clever loophole in the law that he has exploited," says Thompson.

She also criticises ministers for failing to act. "It shouldn’t be our job to take this legal challenge on, but the government isn’t going to do anything and the Gambling Commission isn’t going to do anything," she says.

- The Health Lottery denies it has broken the law and claims it is growing the market. The Gambling Commission, meanwhile, says Camelot has "no arguable ground and no realistic prospect of success".

Read the interview with Dianne Thompson.

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