The operating rights to the UK National Lottery have changed hands, with Allwyn Entertainment taking the reins from Camelot. 

Making the announcement this morning, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) revealed that Czech-group Allwyn had emerged victorious from the fourth National Lottery Licence contest, ending Camelot’s 30-year reign.

This is of significance to the UK sporting sector, as the National Lottery is a key financial backer of several sports, most notably the country’s Olympic athletes – which benefit from the Good Causes programme.

Ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the National Lottery provided funds to a range of Team GB athletes – including the rugby sevens via an agreement with Britain’s three rugby union governing bodies, and women’s football

“I’m delighted that Allwyn’s proposal has been deemed the strongest to grow good causes in the safest and most sustainable way possible,” said Justin King, Allwyn UK Chairman.

“The Gambling Commission has run a lengthy and detailed process, and I’ve been extremely impressed by the attention they have paid to the challenges facing The National Lottery over the coming decades. 

“The National Lottery is a vital British institution and we’re focused on ensuring it plays an even bigger part in society by increasing participation, improving safeguards, and giving back more to good causes.”

However, the lottery’s track record on funding for Good Causes – including support for Olympic athletes – has faced some criticism over the past year. 

Notably, it was released that returns for Good Causes in 2017 were only 2% higher than in 2009, whilst Camelot’s profits during this time were 122% higher. 

Speaking to the DCMS in December 2021, three-time Olympic Gold medalist swimmer Adam Peaty MBE, champion Paralympic rower Lauren Rowles and swimmer Ellie Robinson outlined their views and experiences with regards to National Lottery funding. 

Peaty remarked: “I think if we’re doing that then there should be more funding. If your profits are going up by 120% and good causes is only going up by 2%, then it doesn’t take anyone with two brain cells to go ‘hold on a minute, what’s going on here?’ Camelot or whoever gets the next award… there needs to be more back to society.”

Despite these criticisms, the National Lottery has also maintained a strong presence in professional sports – most notably rugby league, where under Camelot the lottery was active in the space through several partnerships. 

This included an agreement with the Rugby World Cup 2021 – set to take place in England in October and November of this year after a rescheduling – as well as a deal with the Rugby Football League (RFL), which included expensive provisions for support for the women’s game.

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