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A new National Lottery operator could mean an extra £439m but details of the deal are shrouded in secrecy.

An event at the Festival of Thrift, a National Lottery supported project

The company due to run the National Lottery from 2024 has pledged more money for good causes like the arts and a "comprehensive transition plan" leading up to the historic handover.

Czech lottery business Allwyn, formerly known as Sazka, was selected as the "preferred operator" by the Gambling Commission earlier this week over Camelot, which has held the lucrative licence since 1994.

The result is something of a surprise after rumours Camelot was the favourite to win rankled MPs and raised concerns about the highly secretive bidding process.


Details remain elusive: a 10 day legal standstill is in effect, meaning no party can comment in detail on their plans.

It's anticipated Camelot, named as the "reserve applicant", will contest the decision in court. CEO Nigel Railton said the company is "carefully reviewing the Gambling Commission’s evaluation before deciding on our next steps".

"I’m incredibly disappointed by today’s announcement, but we still have a critical job to do as our current licence runs until February 2024."

More money

Allwyn has promised to raise £38bn for good causes over the next decade, £7.6bn of which would go to the arts (£760m per year).

By comparison, Camelot has given £45bn over 28 years, or about £321m per year for arts grants.

The competitors have quibbled over track record. Camelot says the National Lottery achieved its highest ever returns to good causes last year and 65% more than was expected during its stewardship, while Allwyn claims the company delivered £10bn less than it promised.

Camelot has been criticised for profits that rose faster than its charitable returns and our reporting has shown increased spending on marketing at the expense of the Good Causes budget

Allwyn said it will increase sales of draw based games that deliver a greater proportion of profits to good causes; the disparity has posed a challenge to Camelot in recent years.

Bid Chair Sir Keith Mills, commenting before Allwyn's selection, said whoever was chosen needed to "reverse these worrying trends".

The company says its proposal was judged as the best for growing good causes funding, though the Gambling Commission has not confirmed this.

It is not yet known whether Allwyn's donations to good causes would be tied to its future profits as arts figures have suggested.

Transition plan?

It's possible returns will dip during the 22-month transition period.

Arts Council England Chief Executive Darren Henley raised the spectre of this earlier in the month, telling MPs that National Lottery funding has already fallen below the rate of inflation.

Allwyn says it has provided a plan for the take over, but no one would be drawn on what this involves.

"For the National Lottery, it's business as usual," a Gambling Commission spokesperson said.