Bosses at firm that won new National Lottery licence received 40% pay rise | National lottery

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Senior staff at the Czech-owned company that won the next 10-year licence to run the National Lottery were handed a pay rise of nearly 40% for their work in the year leading up to their defeat of the incumbent, Camelot.

Allwyn fended off three competitors for the right to operate the National Lottery, starting from 2024, after a bitter battle with Camelot, Italy’s Sisal, and the media tycoon Richard Desmond.

The decision, taken by the Gambling Commission earlier this year, means Camelot will lose control of the lottery for the first time in almost 30 years, pending the outcome of a legal challenge it has lodged alongside Desmond.

The annual report of the Sazka Group, Allwyn’s parent company, shows that senior staff were paid a combined £10.3m for their work in 2021.

The pay of 11 members of the board and “key management personnel” increased by 39% on the £7.4m pot they shared the year before.

The wage rise covered a year in which the lottery company’s revenues, after gaming duties, increased by 51% to €1.8bn (£1.5bn), with pre-tax profit more than doubling to €578m.

The annual report also details the scale of planned investment in Allwyn by the Sazka Group, a conglomerate owned by the Czech billionaire Karel Komárek.

Sazka has committed to providing Allwyn with £329m of working capital to fund day-to-day operations, as well as $70m (£57m) to invest in capital expenditure.

The money was pledged to “support transition, implementation and ongoing operations” if Allwyn beat Camelot to the fourth National Lottery licence.

Allwyn won the lottery competition after hiring a number of British business grandees to support its bid, including Sir Keith Mills, known for inventing the Air Miles and Nectar Card loyalty schemes, as well as running London’s successful bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

He was joined by the former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King, who had worked with Mills on the delivery of the Games and now chairs Allwyn UK.

Neither is included among the executives and managers who shared in the £10.3m pay arrangements disclosed in Sazka’s annual report.

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The annual report also dismissed suggestions that Komárek’s business interests could be affected by sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Komárek has a gas storage venture with the Kremlin-controlled energy firm Gazprom in his native Czech Republic but has condemned Putin’s “barbarism” and worked with the Prague government on a plan to nationalise the asset.

Sazka’s annual report said it had no operations in Russia or Ukraine and “no exposure to sanctioned entities or persons”.

The Guardian has approached Sazka for comment on its pay arrangements.

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