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Posted on: February 5, 2024, 03:56h. 

Last updated on: February 5, 2024, 04:05h.

Allwyn Entertainment officially took over the reins as the UK’s new lottery operator last week and has already admitted that it won’t hit its promised targets on donations to good causes – in the short term, at least.

Allwyn, National Lottery, UK, Camelot
The UK National Lottery logo adorning a store front in a London street. New operator, Allwyn, says that legal challenges to its tenure has forced it to revise projections for charitable donations in the short term. (Image: National Lottery)

That’s controversial because Allwyn won the estimated $80 billion (US$100 billion) tender – one of the UK’s biggest public sector contracts – on the basis of those projections, and it faced several legal challenges from losing bidders.

The Czech company, formerly known as Sazka, pledged to raise £38 billion (US$48 billion) for good causes over the next ten years, donating $3.8 billion each year. Previous operator Camelot, which has since been acquired by Allwyn, was in control for the 29 years since the lottery’s inception and gave £48 billion (US$60 billion) to good causes during that period.

Change of Plans

Allwyn says it remains committed to hitting its targets by the end of the 10-year license period in 2034 but added the “change to our plans is to the timing.”

It blamed delays in the handover process caused by legal action challenging the UK Gambling Commission’s decision to award the contract to Allwyn. Lawsuits were filed by Camelot prior to its acquisition, as well as Camelot’s former technology partner, IGT, and another losing bidder, the British billionaire Richard Desmond.

Allwyn bought Camelot last year to grease the skids on the complex transition process, which was delayed by six months because of legal action.

Since then, there has been tension between long-standing Camelot management and their new bosses, The Financial Times has reported.

Allwyn is expected to run the lottery at a loss for several years, according to FT sources.

‘False Prospectus’

In a debate in the House of Lords last Thursday, Labour Viscount Chandos asked whether the award of the franchise to Allwyn by the Gambling Commission may have been “based on a false prospectus.”

Today is the first day of the new lottery franchise, yet the new franchisee has already talked about struggling to match previous years’ distribution [to good causes] and a delay in any increase.

“If, as is now predicted, lottery funding for the arts and other good causes does not meet the original projections on which the franchise was awarded, will the government make up the difference through an increase in the grant-in-aid?”

Chandos was suggesting the policy that keeps lottery and government funding separate should be relaxed during the first few years of Allwyn’s tenure so that charities can be compensated for the shortfall.

Dialing Back New Games

Allwyn had hoped to increase lottery revenues by adding new games and draws that would attract younger users. But in the first year of operations, lottery sales from prize draws and scratch cards are expected to drop, forcing it to dial back on its pledge to introduce new games for the time being.

The operator also said that its plan to reduce the cost of a ticket from £2 to £1 was also under review.

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