Main Menu
Top of Page
  | Home   | Index   | Info   | This Week   | Poker   | News   | Email

Welcome to the News desk.

Richard Desmond's Health Lottery wins online gambling licence 08/06/2012
Mark Sweney
Gambling Commission grants Daily Express owner's project casino licence despite opposition from charity body

Richard Desmond is set to try his hand in the casino industry after being awarded a licence for the Health Lottery to expand into online gambling, including roulette and poker.

The Health Lottery, a subsidiary of Desmond's Northern & Shell, which owns Express Newspapers, OK! magazine and Channel 5, was launched with much fanfare in September as a socially-minded alternative to rival Camelot's National Lottery.

However, the venture has so far failed to live up to expectations, bringing in about half the £50m a year promised for good causes and racking up a pre-tax loss of £28.5m in its first three months. Chief executive Martin Hall stepped down in April, although he remains a non-executive director.

It has now emerged that Desmond has been granted a casino licence by the Gambling Commission to allow the Health Lottery to expand to offer "casino games and/or other virtual gaming by remote communication (for example roulette, balckjack, poker [or] reel games)".

A spokesman for the Gambling Commission confirmed that a remote casino operating licence – allowing online gambling – had been awarded to the Health Lottery last month.

A spokesman for N&S said that the casino products will not use the Health Lottery branding. They will be launched using a different identity.

"Health Lottery ELM Ltd applied for this licence 12 months ago and at present, there is no specific timeline for launching any online casino games," said the spokesman.

Rival Camelot is challenging the Gambling Commission's decision not to revoke or suspend the Health Lottery's licence. The high court will decide on 11 July whether or not there will be a judicial review.

Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, the body that represents charity leaders which has been campaigning against Desmond's venture, said: "Our fear remains that the Health Lottery will damage charitable income in this country, and that on that basis it should never have been given a licence."

A spokesman for the Health Lottery hit back at the criticism, saying it so far has made £18m for good causes.

Premier League Football