Camelot will not be allowed to offer bill payments and mobile top-ups via its National Lottery terminals.

The National Lottery commission today handed victory to PayPoint in its long-running battle to prevent Camelot offering commercial services via the terminals.

It said it had “serious concerns” that allowing Camelot to offer the payment services would breach European competition law.

“The Commission is here to protect the long-term propriety of the National Lottery and the £1.6bn it raises annually for good causes,” said chief executive Mark Harris.

“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.”

Camelot called the decision “bewildering” and said good causes would lose out to the tune of £100,000 a week following the commission’s ruling.

“This is a bewildering decision and without precedent in European Union history when you consider that all over Europe other lottery operators offer these services to support their retailers,” said Camelot commercial services managing director Paul Charmatz.

Parminder Singh, president of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, said he was “disappointed” by the decision.

“We have always argued that we could see no reasons to object to Camelot’s entry to the bill payment market on the grounds of competition and that it could bring benefits for both customers and retailers,” he said.

“We remain of the view that customers are best-served by having available as wide a range of choice as possible as to where and how they pay their bills and will continue to work to achieve this end.”

PayPoint chief executive Dominic Taylor claimed the ruling was in the public interest.

“This will come as a huge relief for the many good causes whose revenues would have been threatened by the massive diversion of management time, energy and resources which Camelot’s proposed diversification would have caused,” he argued.

“It’s also good news for local shops whose earnings and footfall would have been undermined by this proposal. It would be entirely wrong for Camelot to be allowed to exploit its position as Lottery monopolist and spread its resources to offer unrelated commercial services.”

Camelot said it was considering its options and remained confident “it will enter the commercial services business in due course”.

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Hope for Camelot as indies call for more e-pay competition (22 January 2011)
Third delay from lottery body as Camelot payment saga drags on (30 September 2010)
Camelot’s plan will ‘hit our livelihoods’ say PayPoint bosses (7 August 2010)