No bill payments Via Lottery Terminals
An application by a UK national lottery operator to start making mobile phone top-up and bill–payment facilities available via its nationwide network of lottery terminals has been rejected by the National Lottery Commission. In several other European countries it is fairly common for players to be able to top up their mobile phones when buying lottery tickets offline, but the National Lottery Commission rejected the Ancillary Activities application of Camelot UK Lotteries Ltd because of ‘serious concerns arising out of EU/competition law.’
“The Commission is here to protect the long term propriety of the National Lottery and the £1.6 billion it raises annually for good causes,” said Mark Harris, Chief Executive of the National Lottery Commission. “We cannot, as a public body, consent to the proposal that is before us when doing so may place us in breach of European competition law. We have considered whether the risks involved can reasonably be mitigated but have concluded, based on the advice we have received, that they cannot. We have set out a full rationale for the decision in a statement of reasons which is available on our website.”
The problem, as far as the National Lottery Commission see it, is that because Camelot already has a massive network of terminals in place across the UK, agreeing to let the company provide ancillary services could put competitors at a distinct – and potentially unfair – disadvantage. The fear is that a decision to allow the additional services would go against European Union laws which govern competition.
Companies which currently specialise in providing bill payment services via machines welcomed the decision of the National Lottery Commission, and the share price of one such company, PayPoint plc, soared by over 20% as a result. Of course, Camelot is far less happy with the ruling, and is said to be ‘considering its options’. Whether the operator will launch a legal challenge to the ruling of the National Lottery Commission remains to be seen.
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