Monday, October 17, 2011 : Gambling Commission gave approval to charity initiative
A lottery scheme through which British media mogul Richard Desmond plans to generate millions for health related charities could end up in the courts amid reports that UK national lottery owner Camelot may be considering legal action.
In an exclusive article, Sky News business journalist Mark Kleinman reports: "My understanding is that Camelot, which has a licence to operate the National Lottery until 2019, is attempting to probe whether its fledgling rival breaches strict rules governing society lotteries in Britain."
Camelot has not confirmed the report.
Kleinman says that the UK Gambling Commission has approved the Desmond scheme, which has heavyweight media and business support, and launched in September with widespread publicity.
There have been reports that Health Lottery terminals used to sell tickets have been tampered with, disrupting some sales.
The Desmond lottery also ran into advertising restrictions from Google Adwords, which appeared to be under the impression that only national or state-controlled lotteries could advertise. The internet giant has since relented on this aspect.
Kleinman emphasises that there is no suggestion that Camelot was involved in any of the disruptions to the Health Lottery launch, and Camelot said only that it had not been informed of any inappropriate behaviour by its staff, and would investigate any such complaints thoroughly if any surfaced.
"The row threatens to escalate into one that might even contain echoes of previous ‘dirty tricks’ disputes in the corporate arena, like British Airways’ efforts to drive Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic out of business in the early 1990s," the Sky report notes.
"Branson has also lost out on the National Lottery licence, notably in 2000 after a bitter legal dispute between his People’s Lottery consortium and Camelot, which led to the resignation of a member of the regulator’s decision-making panel."
A Health Lottery executive told Kleinman that the scheme represents 51 society lotteries focused on raising over GBP50 million for charity, and has already raised a million sterling in its first two weeks of operations.
The new venture is certainly no serious competition for Camelot's national lottery; it plans to sell GBP250 million tickets in its first year, which is hardly in the same league as the national lottery's GBP5 billion annual turnover, Kleinman concludes.