On Tuesday morning, UK National Lottery operator Camelot discovered its rebid for the £80 billion (US$108 billion) lotto contract it had held since 1994 had failed. To cap off a dismal day for the operator, on Tuesday evening, the lottery draw was derailed when a Disney film crew shooting a Snow White remake next door inadvertently started a fire that caused a mass evacuation of the studios.
Around a dozen fire engines were called to tackle the blaze at England’s famous Pinewood Studios, 20 miles west of central London.
Witnesses who spoke to The Daily Mail said they heard explosions at the studios. Images in the UK media this morning showed the movie set engulfed by flames. There are no reports of anyone being hurt in the blaze.
A source told The Sun that “a set made up of wood and trees, etc,” caught fire and spread across the rest of the set at Pinewood’s main studio.
Camelot said Wednesday evening that the Thunderball and Euromillions draw had to be moved to a secondary site because of the fire. As a result, there was no live stream of the draw on the Lottery’s YouTube channel. Customers were urged to check the National Lottery website for results, which appeared much later than usual.
Earlier that day, Camelot chief executive Nigel Railton expressed his “incredible disappointment” on losing the multi-billion-pound contract. Railton added that Camelot was “carefully reviewing the Gambling Commission’s evaluation before deciding on our next steps.”
That could include a legal challenge.
The successful bidder is Allwyn Entertainment, a UK subsidiary of the Czech lottery giant Sazka.
Sazka’s owner is the Czech oil and gas tycoon Karel Komarek. In 2016, his company MND built an underground gas storage facility in the Czech Republic in partnership with Russian energy group Gazprom.
Komarek has denounced the Russian invasion of Ukraine as “a senseless act of aggression that must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”
I took the decision many years ago to divest and exit from Russian assets with the exception of a shareholding in a gas terminal, which we have been trying to exit for a number of years, and a 50/50 joint-venture with Gazprom on an underground gas storage facility in the Czech Republic,” Komarek said in a statement last month.
The UKGC said it was “content that all applicants are fit and proper to operate the National Lottery” and “satisfied that no application is impacted by sanctions related to the conflict in Ukraine.”
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