The Government has today published its response to its consultation exercise on whether bookmakers should continue to be allowed to accept bets on the outcome of foreign EuroMillions draws. The conclusion is that betting on non-UK EuroMillions draws should be prohibited.
There are two primary reasons for this decision. Firstly, the Government is concerned that customers are being misled as to the nature of their transaction. One survey showed that over 60% of participants thought that they were actually buying a ticket for the UK EuroMillions draw, rather than placing a bet on the outcome of a foreign EuroMillions draw. The recent ASA ruling against Lottoland for misleading advertising is also referenced in the consultation.
The second key reason for the Government’s decision is the perceived impact of such products on returns to good causes from the National Lottery. In the year to March 2017, returns to good causes were down 16.9% on the previous year. Declining lottery ticket sales cannot conclusively be blamed on betting-on-lottery products and Lottoland submitted econometric analysis to the Government which suggested that their offering has no statistical impact on EuroMillions ticket sales in the UK. However, the Gambling Commission advised the Government that this was a potential growth area for betting operators and the Government reached the conclusion that introducting the new prohibition was justified on a precautionary basis.
Whilst the current prohibition on accepting bets which form part of the UK National Lottery (which includes the UK EuroMillions draw) comes from the Gambling Act 2005, the extension of this to non-UK EuroMillions draws will be introduced by way of a new licence condition. The reason for the different approach will be purely pragmatic – it is far simpler for the Gambling Commission to introduce a new licence condition into its LCCP than it is for the Government to amend legislation. Given that a Commission licence is required for all betting operators targeting British customers, a licence condition is just as effective as a legislative provision.
One thing to note is that it is only bets placed by British customers which will be affected. The licence condition will not prevent UK-licensed bookmakers from accepting bets on non-UK EuroMillions draws from foreign customers (subject of course to any restrictions in those customers’ home jurisdictions).
The Government’s decision will be a blow for established betting-on-lottery operators, although will not be unexpected. Once the licence condition comes into force they will need to remove all EuroMillions products from GB-facing sites. This may present an opportunity for lottery syndicate businesses who, provided their product complies with the Gambling Act 2005 and National Lottery Rules, may continue to offer customers the opportunity to take part in EuroMillions syndicates.
A date has not yet been published for the implementation of the new licence condition.