Friday, June 21, 2024

Media mogul Richard Desmond scores early victory in Gambling Commission lotto…

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Media mogul Richard Desmond scored his first victory yesterday in his fight against a “seriously flawed” decision to award the National Lottery licence.

The 72-year-old business titan will go into battle with the Gambling Commission next year over claims the process to award the lotto licence was mishandled.

The High Court showdown will take place in October.

The regulator had pushed for a split trial, limiting the scope of evidence. But that has been rejected, meaning a single and comprehensive trial will see all allegations addressed at a single hearing. 

Mr Desmond’s publishing group Northern & Shell launched legal action over claims the process to award the lotto licence was bungled after a bid was rejected. 

The New Lottery Company, whose parent is Mr Desmond’s Northern and Shell, is seeking damages claiming the regulator failed to fairly run the bidding process.

Four parties were vying for the licence – Allwyn, Camelot, Sisal Spa, and The New Lottery Company.

In 2022, Allwyn was named as the preferred applicant, ahead of Camelot which had held the licence for nearly 30-years.

Last week Michael Bowsher KC, for The New Lottery Company, told the High Court there were “recurrent failings” in the process and the Gambling Commission failed to give appropriate feedback and ensure equal treatment.

He said: “This is a damaged process and we have suffered damage as a result of that.”

The Gambling Commission is defending the legal action and “completely denies” the allegation.

Allwyn bought previous National Lottery operator Camelot in February last year and took over the licence on February 1.

Mr Desmond, the British publisher and businessman, has given a lifeline to thousands of health projects and charities across Britain through The Health Lottery. 

Since its birth in 2011, the UK’s brightest lotto has given hope of a better life to countless projects striving to make the nation happier and healthier with projects across England, Scotland and Wales benefiting from a pipeline of money which has kept dreams alive.

Camelot attempted to take High Court legal action to have the Health Lottery’s gambling licence revoked in 2012, claiming they had not received adequate protection from the Gambling Commission, but lost the case. Mr Desmond described the victory as a “complete vindication”.

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