Camelot has decided not to appeal against last month’s High Court judgment refusing permission for a judicial review of the Gambling Commission’s regulation of the Health Lottery.
Instead, it has called on Prime Minister David Cameron to take action against the Health Lottery's activities.
The National Lottery operator says it recognises that proceeding with the appeal would only delay the political action needed to close the “loophole” in the Gambling Act which it claims has allowed the Health Lottery to operate as a national brand and so position itself as a direct rival to the National Lottery.
The Health Lottery denies that it operates nationally.
Camelot Group CEO Dianne Thompson has today written to the Prime Minister telling him that the company will withdraw its application for leave to appeal, even though its lawyers have advised it has “clear grounds” for appeal.
She said the Health Lottery’s recent announcement that it is to launch a mid-week draw next month only serves to “underline the urgency with which the government needs to act to ensure that the law mirrors the intention and will of Parliament that there should be only one National Lottery”.
Thompson: Incentive for more 'industrial-scale society lotteries'
She said: “As we have warned all along, time is of the essence – the longer the period of political inaction, the more incentive there is for other commercial operators to establish similar industrial-scale society lotteries that would effectively cannibalise National Lottery sales and returns to good causes.
“Now there is no longer any legal impediment to political action, we are urging the government to take swift action to protect the National Lottery and the significant contribution it makes to society.”
Camelot said that both the High Court judgment and the Gambling Commission’s own evidence agreed that political action was needed if the Health Lottery was to be stopped from operating in its current format. The judgment stated: “The question whether multiple society lotteries should be permitted is a political question, to be determined by the government or Parliament."
Health Lottery: Camelot knows it would lose
But the Health Lottery suggested that Camelot knew an appeal would not succeed. A spokeswoman said: “The High Court was quite clear when it rejected Camelot’s call for judicial review of the Health Lottery that it believed Camelot’s case had no reasonable chance of success and that the Health Lottery was an entirely lawful structure.
"By now calling on the Prime Minister to close down the Health Lottery in this way, having lost the legal arguments, Camelot is seeking to shut off a vital pipeline of funding that has helped health-related charities in every part of Great Britain at a time when charities and local projects are struggling more than ever to raise funds."
The Health Lottery has so far raised over £24m for health charities.
The spokeswoman added: "Camelot enjoyed record sales of £6.5bn last year and is enjoying continued growth. Our sales are less than 2 per cent of theirs and we are surprised that Camelot continues its attempts to close down a far smaller lottery operator, which in any case has an entirely different and regionally-focused structure.”