Camelot loses High Court Health Lottery action

Richard Desmond says that his Health Lottery and the National Lottery are "two very different things"

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Camelot, the operator of the National Lottery, has lost a High Court action to block rival Health Lottery from operating in its current form.

Camelot lost the case against the Gambling Commission, which had granted the Health Lottery a licence to operate in the UK.

The Health Lottery was set up last year by Richard Desmond's Northern & Shell and raises funds for UK health causes.

Camelot said it was disappointed at the decision and would launch an appeal.

The company said it intended to "lodge papers with the Court of Appeal against what we believe to be a legally-flawed and unfair decision by the court".

Mr Desmond told the BBC that Camelot's case had been "a waste of time".

He said the Health Lottery raised £500,000 a week to "people who really need the money" and was "not at all similar" to the National Lottery. They are "two very different things," he said.

Political question

The Health Lottery manages and promotes draws on behalf of 51 local organisations and charities in what are known as society lotteries.

Camelot has argued the Health Lottery is, in essence, a UK-wide rival to the National Lottery. As such, the company says, it goes against the National Lottery Act of 1993, which allows for just one national lottery.

Camelot has described the Health Lottery as "unlawful and a blatant example of an attempt to commercialise a society lottery on an industrial scale that cuts across both the spirit and letter of statute and regulation".

But Lord Justice Stanley Burton and Mr Justice Kenneth Parker, sitting in the High Court, dismissed the case.

They refused Camelot permission to press its claim for a judicial review, and said the question of whether multiple society lotteries should be permitted should be answered by the government or parliament.

Responding to the judgement, Camelot called on the coalition to resolve the dispute.

"It is now imperative that the government acts to close this loophole and to ensure that the law mirrors the intention and will of parliament that there should be only one National Lottery," said chief executive Dianne Thompson.

The Health Lottery was launched in October last year and says that the 51 organisations it represents have raised more than £22m. The top prize on offer is £100,000. It says it is is not "remotely comparable" to the National Lottery.

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