Last month the UK Gambling Commission chose Allwyn as the new licence holder of the National Lottery. The new lottery operator is due to head the entity after the licence of the current operator, Camelot Group, expires in 2024.
Following an investigation by the Mail on Sunday, it was revealed that the chair of the Committee for the Fourth National Lottery Competition, Stephen Cohen, had some ties to Russia. The new operator of the National Lottery is Allwyn Entertainment, which is a company established and operated by the Czech oil and gas businessman Karel Komarek.
Cohen, who handed Allwyn the National Lottery licence last month, was revealed to have helped foreign investments into Russia for years and has even worked for a former minister of Putin.
Investigation Reveals National Lottery Committee’s Ties with Russia
According to Mail on Sunday’s investigation, Cohen spent several years aiding the private sector to connect to the Russian market. He was also working for Andrey Sharonov, who is a former deputy economy minister of Russia.
The investigation of the newspaper showed that for the years between 2005 and 2008, Cohen was in charge of the hedge fund of Troika Dialog. At that time, this was considered the most preferred investment bank in the Kremlin and some of its investments included the major energy company Gazprom. Back then, Allwyn also had some business relations with Gazprom.
Following the decision of the UKGC for the fourth winner of the National Lottery Licence Competition, Camelot took legal actions against the regulator, claiming that the competition was not conducted transparently. The reveal of Allwyn’s former relations with Gazprom may give Camelot’s accusations some ground and play a significant role in their case.
According to the UKGC, none of the four contestants in the National Lottery Licence Competition was in any way related to the current sanctions against Russia that came as a result of Russia’s war crimes against Ukraine.
Possible Ties to Russia Prompt Adequate Reaction to Prove Transparency of National Lottery Competition
In light of current events, Komarek showed disapproval of Russia’s actions against Ukraine and called for an end to the war. That said, the case of Cohen is a tad more complicated as the Mail of Sunday had to go into an extensive investigation to discover the Committee’s char past employment positions. These were nowhere to be found on the official website of the UKGC nor were they listed on Cohen’s LinkedIn page or the government page dedicated to Cohen’s previous employment positions.
Following the publication of Mail of Sunday, MPs from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling Related Harm are calling for evidence from the UKGC ensuring the Fourth National Lottery Licence Competition was conducted in a fair and transparent manner. That is of great importance for the future operation of the National Lottery, with MPs warning the Commission about awarding the licence to a company that may have some ties to Russia.
Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.