Bakers and Blackstone lead Camelot’s Gambling Commission JR bid

Baker & McKenzie and Blackstone Chambers are leading National Lottery Operator Camelot’s judicial review application against the Gambling Commission.

Tom Cassels
Tom Cassels

Blackstone’s Lord Pannick QC and Kate Gallafent will seek to challenge what Camelot terms the commission’s “continued failure” to take regulatory action against Richard Desmond’s Health Lottery.

Formal papers will be lodged in the High Court next week after Camelot instructed Baker & McKenzie partner Tom Cassels.

The Gambling Commission has appointed James Goudie QC and Christopher Knight, both from 11KBW.

Camelot claims that Northern & Shell owner Desmond’s Health Lottery is a direct rival to the National Lottery and that the charities supported by lottery grants will lose out.

The Health Lottery scheme raises money for health groups in 51 regional society lotteries that operate in rotation. Each lottery ticket costs £1, and 20p of that goes to health-related causes.

Lord Pannick QC
Lord Pannick QC

Camelot CEO Dianne Thompson said: “We’ve been reluctant to pursue this course of action but now have no other option given the Gambling Commission’s continuing failure since last October to address our concerns and to clarify its own position. We have a clear duty to act in the interests of National Lottery Good Causes and we’d be failing in this duty if we did nothing.

“We believe that the Health Lottery is in clear breach of this crucial market separation envisaged by Parliament. Indeed, the Gambling Commission’s own chief executive has publicly stated that the structure of the Health Lottery is a clear attempt to circumvent existing regulations.

“The Gambling Commission is therefore in real danger of setting a perilous precedent that will allow other commercial operators to establish what would effectively be further rivals to the National Lottery. This would have a potentially devastating effect on returns to National Lottery Good Causes and Lottery Duty revenues to the Exchequer. This is something I have already raised with the Government as a matter of urgency – the longer the period of regulatory inaction, the more incentive there is for other organisations to set up similar mass-market lotteries.”

The Health Lottery said the claims were “devoid of merit”.