One of the world’s most famous lottery organisers has lost its licence to run the UK National Lottery from 2024, with Czech firm Allwyn set to take over.

Camelot, which also runs the Illinois State Lottery, has orchestrated Britain’s most popular lottery since 1994 but was overlooked in the latest licensing process.

Four firms were vying to run the lottery, which generated billions of dollars for good causes. Profits for operating the lottery are also lucrative, which is why the bidding process has been subject to such scrutiny.

It is understood the UK Gambling Commission favored Allwyn despite the nearly three decades of close working ties with Camelot. However, the decision has been criticised by some MPs because of the company’s owner – Czech billionaire Karel Komarek’s – supposed ties with Russia.

Allwyn will take over the lottery and has pledged to greatly expand the size of donations to good causes over the next decade.

In a statement, the UKGC said: “The selection of Allwyn as preferred applicant follows a fair, open and robust competition which received four applications at the final stage.

“The Gambling Commission is content that all applicants are fit and proper to operate the national lottery. Recognising our role as a responsible regulator we are also satisfied that no application is impacted by sanctions related to the conflict in Ukraine.”

UK National Lottery
The UK National Lottery is one of the biggest in the world and donates billions of dollars to good causes

Allwyn Russia Scrutiny

The UK Labour Party has called on the government to explain whether it was “satisfied this company does not have links to the Russian regime”. This is in relation to Komarek’s other business dealings, particularly his joint venture with Russia’s state controlled gas company Gazprom.

The UK has imposed a string of sanctions on Russian companies and businesspeople, including the oligarch Roman Abramovich. Those owning Russian-based assets or whose wealth has been generated from these assets have found themselves targets of the UK government’s sanctions.

Therefore the decision to hand Allwyn the licence to run the UK’s biggest lottery has come under intense scrutiny.

The Guardian reports Komarek is ‘in the midst of discussions with the government in Prague to nationalise the gas storage asset that he co-owns with Gazprom’. Komarek has previously issued statements criticizing Russian president Vladimir Putin.

How Big Is The UK Lottery?

The UK National Lottery is one of the biggest in the world, with around 45 million regular players – roughly 75% of the UK’s over-18s. Compare that to America, where just 57% of the country (181 million) play a lottery at least once a year.

Since its launch in 1994 the lottery has generated roughly $58.9bn for charities and good causes, and each year pays out around $6.6bn in prizes.

Tickets cost £2 ($2.60) and there is a one-in-45 million chance of winning the jackpot. The highest jackpot stands at $223m.

According to Allwyn’s bid, the company has pledged to donate $40bn to good causes over the next decade. That is a significant step up from Camelot’s charitable giving.

There is also a proposal to reduce the ticket price back down to £1 ($1.30) and has made commitments to helping prevent gambling addiction.

In a statement, former supermarket chief executive Justin King – who will sit on the advisory board – said: “I’m delighted that Allwyn’s proposal has been deemed the strongest to grow good causes in the safest and most sustainable way possible.

“The Gambling Commission has run a lengthy and detailed process, and I’ve been extremely impressed by the attention they have paid to the challenges facing the national lottery over the coming decades.

“The national lottery is a vital British institution and we’re focused on ensuring it plays an even bigger part in society by increasing participation, improving safeguards, and giving back more to good causes.”

Joe Ellison

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK's top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You'll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn't writing about sport.

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