IGT Sues the UK Gambling Commission for “Human Rights” Violations in Lottery Deal

After the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) decided to turn over the UK National Lottery to Allwyn Entertainment, incumbent operator Camelot balked and threatened to sue. It later dropped its dispute, but its technology partner, International Game Technology (IGT), isn’t willing to give up the fight.

International Game Technology CEO Vincent Sadusky
International Game Technology CEO Vincent Sadusky
International Game Technology CEO Vincent Sadusky talks during a recent gaming event. The company is relaunching its legal challenge against the UKGC for awarding the National Lottery to Allwyn Entertainment. (Image: Yogonet)

Allwyn thought it was going to be able to avoid any legal issues when it announced that it was going to purchase Camelot’s assets in November. A report in The Times, however, now reveals another layer of difficulty through the legal challenge.

IGT, is apparently taking a different approach with its attack. Where the Italian-based operator may stand to lose market share as a result of the transfer of power, it equates this to a violation of human rights laws.

UKGC, Violator of Human Rights

IGT asserts in the new challenge not that the move from Camelot to Allwyn will impact it financially, but that it will impact its “marketable goodwill.” In other words, it will lose its ability to provide community support.

Camelot and IGT tried to stop the gaming regulator from moving forward with the transition immediately after the UKGC made its decision last March. The move gave Allwyn, a subsidiary of Czech-based gaming giant Sazka, a 10-year contract worth $80 million.

The following month, Camelot sued the UKGC, a move that automatically suspended the transfer of the license. However, in June, a judge found no reason to prevent the transfer of power, and Camelot dropped its lawsuit.

IGT warned at the time that it wasn’t going to be so quick to give up the legal fight. It has now fulfilled its warning, although its strategy won’t likely hold up in court.

IGT argues that the UKGC is violating Article 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), as well as the European Union’s (EU) Human Rights Act (HRA). Article 1 simply refers to EU members being required to enforce the “rights and freedoms defined in Section 1” of the ECHR.

Section 1, a copy of which can be found here, discusses the rights of individuals, not companies. As such, it would seem that IGT is arguing that the UKGC is violating the rights of individuals by denying IGT the ability to serve in a charitable capacity.

If that is the case, the company won’t have much of a legal foundation. Allwyn’s charter for the National Lottery requires it to use revenue to support charitable organizations, just like its predecessor.

Unscrupulous Manipulation

There’s a chance that IGT’s actions could backfire in a major way. It’s not making any friends with its attempt to manipulate the system, and some British parliamentarians are already calling it out.

The National Lottery has already distributed over £46 billion (US$54.7 billion) to worthy causes since its inception in 1994. Allwyn will continue that tradition. Therefore, an attempt by IGT to receive sympathy by alleging human rights violations misses its mark.

Members of parliament, including Sally-Ann Hart and Ben Bradley, already blasted IGT for its veiled attempt at saving its commercial stability. They call the maneuver unacceptable and also point out the obvious fallacy.

Were the legal challenge to win, the UKGC would have to pay IGT £600 million (US$713.52 million), the amount it claims in damages. However, the money would come from the very fund that supports worthy causes – the fund IGT says is at risk by giving the lottery to Allwyn.

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