Camelot challenge to Health Lottery
National Lottery operator Camelot is to seek permission next week for a judicial review into the Gambling Commission's "continuing failure" to revoke or suspend the Health Lottery licences.
Chief executive Dianne Thompson said they believed the Gambling Commission made a "fundamental error" in allowing the Health Lottery, launched five months ago by Northern and Shell, to operate in its current form.
She said that by licensing the Health Lottery, the Gambling Commission was in "real danger" of setting a precedent allowing other commercial operators to set up as rivals to the National Lottery.
This would have a potentially "devastating" effect on returns to the National Lottery good causes and Lottery duty revenues to the Treasury, she said.
"As you can imagine, no business likes to be publicly at loggerheads with a regulator," she said at a news conference at Camelot's London offices. "But the issue at stake here is so important, not just to us, but to the good causes that the National Lottery exists to support, that we can no longer remain silent.
"The issue is this: we believe that the Gambling Commission has made a fundamental error in allowing the Health Lottery, launched five months ago by Northern and Shell, to operate in its current form."
Ms Thompson said Camelot believed that the Health Lottery, although licensed by the Gambling Commission, was unlawful.
She said current legislation distinguishes between two types of lottery - the small-scale type run by a society or a local authority and the large-scale one - the National Lottery, run by Camelot. She said the Health Lottery amounted to a national lottery as it is advertised nationally, branded nationally, tickets are sold nationally and the draw is televised nationally.
"If the Health Lottery is a national lottery, then policy-makers and regulators need to ask themselves how this squares with the National Lottery Act 1993, which allows for just one national lottery," she said.
A spokesman for the Health Lottery said: "The Gambling Commission has given a very robust response to Camelot's arguments. We agree with the Gambling Commission that Camelot's arguments are devoid of merit."