National Lottery operator Camelot is set to lose its licence to operate the game after 30 years, with the Gambling Commission announcing plans to transfer it to a rival.

A fiercely contested bidding process has been under way between four parties to hold the licence that Camelot, which is based in Tolpits Lane, Watford, has operated since 1994.

But officials said Allwyn is now the preferred applicant to take over the venture in 2024.

The Gambling Commission said: “The selection of Allwyn as preferred applicant follows a fair, open and robust competition which received four applications at the final stage.

“This is the highest number of applications since the first National Lottery licence was awarded in 1994.

Watford Observer: The Camelot HQ in Tolpits Lane Photo: Nigel CoxThe Camelot HQ in Tolpits Lane Photo: Nigel Cox

“Allwyn has committed to investment in the National Lottery that is expected to deliver growth and innovation across the National Lottery’s products and channels, resulting in increased contributions to good causes, subject to the protection of participants and propriety.

“The Gambling Commission is content that all applicants are fit and proper to operate the National Lottery.

“Recognising our role as a responsible regulator we are also satisfied that no application is impacted by sanctions related to the conflict in Ukraine.”

Camelot chief executive Nigel Railton said: “I’m incredibly disappointed by today’s announcement, but we still have a critical job to do – as our current licence runs until February 2024.

“We’re now carefully reviewing the Gambling Commission’s evaluation before deciding on our next steps.”

Based locally, Camelot plays an important role in the community. The company sponsors the Beryl Bike hire scheme in Watford and also donated £100,000 to charities fighting the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

Read more:

Camelot sponsoring Watford's Beryl bike scheme

Camelot donates £100,000 to fight pandemic in Watford and Three Rivers

Mr Railton added: “I’m enormously grateful to our 1,000-plus employees who have been unwavering in delivering record-breaking results during the current licence.

"And I know they remain absolutely determined to build on our four and a half years of successive sales growth – which has seen us achieve record sales in each of the last two years, resulting in the best-ever returns to Good Causes from ticket sales last year.”