UKGC Under Fire for Taking £154.8m from National Lottery Charity Fund

May 1, 2022
Mark Patrickson

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission is under fire for appropriating £154.8m from the National Lottery Charity fund. According to a report in the Mail on Sunday, this sum is “£50 million more than budgeted and money which should have been used to support cash-starved charities and community groups.”

Andrew Rhodes, the UKGC CEO, said the payment will be used to regulate the lottery for the next 10 years as well as pay for the recent bidding process that saw a Czech billionaire take over the contract from Camelot, which held it for almost three decades.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, vice-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling-Related Harm and former Conservative Party leader, was critical of the cash grab saying: “This is another example of the appalling way the lottery is run. The proportion of funds going to good causes has plummeted.”

Andrew Rhodes explained to the Commons Public Accounts Committee that the £154.8 million budget unexpectedly rose to more than £50 million over the initial figure of £102.9 million but didn’t give any details as to why.

He also tried to mitigate the uproar by pointing out that even though £50 million is a huge sum, it only accounts for an increase of 0.7% of the charity budget of £14.5 billion.

Legal Action

If the public criticism detailed above isn’t enough of an embarrassment, the UKGC is also facing legal action over its recent handling of the licensing process.

Allwyn Entertainment, Europe’s largest lottery operator, owned by Czech billionaire Karel Komarek, wrestled the contract from Camelot under a modified bid scoring system which will likely form the basis of the legal action.

The Czech billionaire, worth a reported $7.8 billion, also co-owns a gas storage facility with Russian government entity Gazprom which complicates matters further given the current geopolitical climate, even though Komarek has publicly denounced Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine.

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