The pandemic delays the battle for the national lottery
The battle to run the national lottery over the next decade has been delayed due to travel restrictions linked to the pandemic.
Camelot, which has been running the lottery since its inception in 1994, has been granted a six-month extension and will now conduct the draw until 2024, the Gambling Commission has announced.
Bidders were to submit their final presentations to the regulator in September. However, it is understood that after some complained that they could not appear in person due to Covid restrictions, the Gambling Commission agreed to push back the schedule.
The presentations will now take place in October, with the regulator taking an additional six weeks to make a final decision in February.
Officials need a two-year window between award and takeover of the new operator, meaning Camelot’s license, which was last awarded in 2009, will be extended for another six months .
The Gambling Commission has warned that there could be further delays: “All dates are indicative and may change based on market feedback and the continued national and international impact of Covid-19, which we let’s all keep studying. “
Camelot faces fierce competition from billionaires Karel Komarek, a Czech oil oligarch, and Richard Desmond, the former owner of the Express and Star newspaper headlines.
Italian Sisal, backed by private equity firm CVC, which announced on Wednesday it was taking a stake in Spain’s La Liga soccer tournament, is also in the running.
The delays will also give members more time for a parliamentary inquiry into the National Lottery. Commons’ influential Digital, Media, Culture and Sports Committee will review the bidding process and how the draw will unfold in the years to come.
Conservative MP Julian Knight, chair of the committee, said, “We need to know that when the money has been spent on marketing, we are getting our money’s worth. We are really going to focus on getting back to good causes. “