Lottoland accuses Camelot of ‘bullying’ and being averse to competition

Lottoland accuses Camelot of ‘bullying’ and being averse to competition

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 Posted by Andy McCarron
Government looking to close Euromillions lottery bets loophole

The UK government’s move to close a loophole that has allowed secondary lottery operators to offer bets on the EuroMillions lottery has been slammed by one of the sector’s leading proponents which claims the move is anti-competitive.

A consultation document was released yesterday by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) which will specifically seek to close down what it terms as a loophole which allows operators to offer bets on the Euromillions draw.

The loophole means companies such as Lottoland can offer cut-price bets on the Euromillions draw which happens every week in Paris. In its consultation document, the government said it has been “made aware’ that operators are circumventing the restriction to offer bets on EuroMillions draws offered abroad.

The statement adds: “They are able to do so because EuroMillions is a lottery run in partnership between a number of lottery operators in European countries and is, technically, a separate game in each participating country despite being the same draw.”

But it goes on to add that such betting is “clearly contrary to the spirit and intention” of the original section 95 of the Gambling Act which seeks to preserve a distinction between betting and The National Lottery. “Without further action, we run the risk of further customer confusion and of a potential threat to good cause returns to The National Lottery.”

The government consultation suggests the specific prohibition of offering of bets on lottery draws made abroad.

A legal source suggested to TotallyGaming.com that the Lottoland offering might be deemed by the government to have fallen foul of the so-called ‘moron in a hurry’ legal definition of whether an offer could confuse the unwary. The consultation document makes the point that the government is “concerned that these bets are muddying the ‘clear blue water’ between betting and The National Lottery, and resulting in customer confusion.”

Tracey Crouch, the minister responsible for gambling issues, said: “We want to act to ensure that money going to good causes is protected and that there is no confusion around the EuroMillions draw, providing the same levels of clarity as there is with the National Lottery."

In its response, Nigel Birrell, chief executive at Lottoland, accuses the government of acting at the behest of Camelot.

“We believe this agenda is clearly being driven by Camelot lobbying to protect their monopoly and bully any competition out of the market, a precedent we have seen with society lotteries and most notably the Health Lottery,” he said in a statement.

In a stinging attack, he accused Camelot of being “averse to healthy, licensed, tax-paying, and, above all, fair competition at the same time neglecting customer needs in the world we live in today.”

He added that Lottoland looked forward to taking part in the consultation and would put the case for enabling the consumer to choose how they pay for products, services and entertainment.

“For many people the lottery has lost its magic,” he added. “It is clearly a lack of choice, product innovation and an antiquated offering that has led to the decline of lottery sales over the past years. This is a trend that has been seen across many monopolistic industries where disruptor brands such as Uber, Airbnb and Netflix have brought customer choice, value and new technologies to the benefit of the customer, this is exactly what Lottoland are bringing to the market.”

As well as Euromillions, Lottoland offers bets on 26 other international lottery products including the popular PowerBall and MegaMillions lotteries in the US.

Daniel Dyball, Camelot’s ‎Head of Policy and Regulatory Affairs, commented: “We welcome this announcement from the Government. Our overarching objective is to raise as much money as possible for Good Causes, and we’ve long argued that bet-on-lottery firms are circumventing the legislation and causing player confusion by offering bets on EuroMillions – with Good Causes missing out. We look forward to responding to the consultation.”

The UK isn’t the only country to have decided to act against Lottoland. Back in January, the Czech ministry of finance launched legal proceedings against the company. In a statement, the finance ministry said: “We informed the operator that their actions violate the law. Unlike other companies, they completely ignored our call for an end to illegal activities, so we have gathered the necessary evidence and today we have launched administrative proceedings.”

Totally Gaming says: It would appear that the secondary betting on lottery market is another example of where the dynamics of innovation in product offering come into direct conflict with gambling regulations. As with most such instances, there is normally only one ‘winner’. The question for Lottoland and other such providers is whether other European regulators will similarly move to close down such loopholes in their own countries.

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