A possible delay in the tender process that is about to select the operator for the UK National Lottery for 14 years, starting from 2023, has provoked concerns among potential bidders, claiming any delay favours the current operator.
Two Months Less To Transfer Operations
The timetable for the bidding process, a procurement-type questionnaire drafted by the UK Gambling Commission, the regulatory body that will oversee the tender process, has not been sent to the interested parties, Financial Times reports. Further, companies interested in submitting a bid have been notified for a possible delay of up to two months, which according to some potential bidders works in favor of the current lottery operator, Canadian company Camelot.
Camelot has been running the UK National Lottery, the sixth largest in the world sales-wise, since its first days in 1994, and the Canadian operator has been experiencing difficulties for the past two years, with falling sales and a £1.15 million financial penalty meted out by the Gambling Commission due to failings relating to the governance, risk and control framework.
The current tender is the fourth in the history of the lottery that generates around £3 billion per year of gross gambling yield that makes it one of the most lucrative contracts the government awards, and this tender process promises to be the most competitive one so far, raising questions whether Camelot will manage to win it for the fourth time, the winner being announced in February 2021.
However, some potential bidders do not hide their disappointment that any possible delay in the process puts Camelot at an advantage, as it will cost bidders huge amounts of extra funds and will shorten the transition period when transferring of operations from one operator to the other should happen, thus making the Gambling Commission reluctant to elect for another operator due to risk aversion.
A Look At Camelot’s Competition
The competition for the contract is expected to be intense, with some candidates having already expressed interest in participating in the tender process, among which is the Health Lottery, a lottery that operates on behalf of 12 Community Interest Companies /CICs/, managing 12 society lotteries each one representing several local authority areas across Great Britain, owned by media mogul Richard Desmond.
Another potential bidder is billionaire and owner of Virgin Group, Richard Branson, who won the competition in 2000 after Camelot was disqualified die to technical glitches only to see the court re-award the contract to the Canadian company, highly determined to win this time around and stop British funds being siphoned towards teachers’ pensions in Canada.
Another company that is aware of the ongoing tender process is the Czech Republic Sazka Group, a pan-European lottery and sports betting operator, currently running lotteries in its home country, Austria and Greece.
Two companies expected to be in the running due to previously expressing interest, the People’s Postcode Lottery, a UK-run lottery by the Dutch operator Novamedia, and Tabcorp, an Australian gambling company, have pulled out of the competition.
Dates In The Draft Indicative
In response to questions regarding any possible delays, the Gambling Commission reiterated that, though dates in the drafted timetable have indicative meaning, the body is determined to launch the process in early 2020.