Last month, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) published its response to the consultation on prohibiting betting on non-UK EuroMillions draws, which was launched back in March. In a blow for the bet-on-lottery market in the UK, the response finds in favour of the prohibition and will lead the Gambling Commission to introduce a new licence condition precluding operators from offering or taking these bets.

The “legal loophole”

Section 95 of the Gambling Act 2005 prohibits betting on any lottery which forms part of the National Lottery. This includes any lottery that it is promoted by Camelot, which holds the licence to operate the National Lottery exclusively, and therefore covers the UK draw for EuroMillions. As previously reported on Law-Now, however, the structure of the EuroMillions has nevertheless allowed bets to be placed on EuroMillions.

The EuroMillions is a lottery which pools together the draws of each of the constituent countries; there is a UK draw, a French draw, a German draw, and so on. As Camelot only promotes the UK EuroMillions draw (it does not sell tickets abroad), bet-on-lottery operators have been able to avoid the restriction placed on them under the Gambling Act by only accepting bets on non-UK EuroMillions draws instead.

DCMS cited two key reasons for exercising its power under section 78 of the Gambling Act and closing the perceived loophole. Firstly, research submitted by Camelot showed that EuroMillions products offered by bet-on-lottery providers have caused consumer confusion, and a blurring of the line between lotteries and betting on lotteries. DCMS cited that research submitted by Camelot found that only 14% of consumers could correctly identify that buying a EuroMillions ticket via a betting operator is actually a bet on EuroMillions in a foreign country and that over 60% thought that they were playing EuroMillions in the UK. Secondly, DCMS found that the profits earned by bet-on-lottery providers are to the detriment of the returns of the National Lottery and in turn its contributions to good causes.

Impact on bet–on-lottery providers

In its report, DCMS estimated that the move would see a cost to business of between £4.5m to £5.8 per year. Whilst the rights of bet on lottery operators to offer bets on other international lotteries and to non-UK punters on EuroMillions will remain unaffected by DCMS’ decision, the loss of offering bets on the EuroMillions to UK punters will undoubtedly be significant.

Lottoland’s CEO Nigel Birrell has subsequently indicated that the operator may seek legal action, stating that “given the significant impact to our UK business of this decision, we are reviewing all available options before determining our next steps”. The operator has rebutted DCMS’ claims meanwhile as to the impact of bets being accepted on the EuroMillions to the National Lottery labelling this as “statistically indistinguishable from zero”, and previously provided evidence to DCMS to suggest that there may in fact be a positive correlation between the two products.

In its report, however, DCMS noted that as bet-on-lottery operators are still relatively new to the market, they “remain concerned that should betting on EuroMillions expand and become widespread amongst other operators, there is a risk that EuroMillions sales, and consequently National Lottery good cause returns, may decrease”.

You can read the full response from DCMS here.