Camelot, which has operated the National Lottery since its inception in 1994, has issued proceedings in the High Court against the Gambling Commission over its decision last month to name Allwyn Entertainment UK as its preferred applicant for the Fourth Licence.
Camelot CEO Nigel Railton said: "We are launching a legal challenge today in our capacity as an applicant for the Fourth Licence because we firmly believe that the Gambling Commission has got this decision badly wrong. When we received the result, we were shocked by aspects of the decision.
"Despite lengthy correspondence, the Commission has failed to provide a satisfactory response. We are therefore left with no choice but to ask the court to establish what happened.
“Irrespective of Camelot's dual roles as current operator and applicant for the next National Lottery licence, the competition is one of the largest UK government-sponsored procurements and the process deserves independent scrutiny. Separately, more than 1,000 Camelot employees work tirelessly to successfully operate The National Lottery under the current licence and, at the very least, they are owed a proper explanation."
In response the Gambling Commission said: “The selection of a Preferred Applicant follows a fair, open and robust competition which received four applications at the final stage. This is the highest number of applications since the first National Lottery licence was awarded in 1994.
“Following the announcement, we entered a legal standstill period. The standstill allowed all applicants to consider the outcome of the competition and feedback on their application, prior to the Commission entering into further legal arrangements with the Preferred Applicant.
“The Commission has subsequently received legal proceedings in relation to the competition process. We regret Camelot’s decision to bring legal proceedings following the outcome of a highly successful competition for the fourth National Lottery licence. The competition and our evaluation have been carried out fairly and lawfully in accordance with our statutory duties, and we are confident that a court would come to that conclusion.”
The Gambling Commission added: “We are confident that we have run a fair and robust competition. We have taken every step possible to ensure a level playing field for all interested parties, to enable us to appoint a licensee who will engage and protect players, run the National Lottery with integrity and ensure the National Lottery continues to support good causes and their contribution to society.
“Our priority is to continue to work to implement our decision and ensure a seamless and timely transition to the next licence, for the benefit of participants and good causes. These proceedings will not help that but we trust that Camelot will honour its obligations as the current licensee to cooperate in that transition, and we will continue to use the tools available to us to facilitate that process.
"In order to protect the integrity of the process, we will not be able to discuss the specifics until litigation has concluded."