Award fast as lightning to the outgoing – and immediately re-entering – evergreen monoprovider Lottomatica. Italian authorities ignore warning to wait for the upcoming judgment of the Latium Regional Administrative Court expected to rule on Stanley’s challenge seeking the annulment of the tender. Stanley HQ say: “We will challenge the award in the Italian courts and European venues”.

Legal considerations aside, the Lottomatica award story shows that common sense and credibility were truly trampled on. Only two days after the opening of bids containing the economic offer of tenderers, the Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM) evidently was in a great hurry to award the Italian Lotto concession for the next nine years to a joint venture (JV) led by the outgoing incumbent, Lottomatica.

The astonishing score given to Lottomatica – 99.30 points out of 100 – is bound to leave the second bidder way behind. However, no need to worry about that, since one bidder only participated in the tender. In fact, it was immediately clear from the tender documents which Stanley had challenged before the Administrative Court that the requisites were tailor-made for a specific operator with very specific characteristics. And Stanley demonstrated by an independent opinion by an economic expert filed with the Court that Lottomatica alone on the planet could have fulfilled those requisites. Which was the case.

Single bidder. Real-time award. Last but not least, total disrespect for the Administrative Court seized of the challenge, which at the 6 April hearing had indicated that the filing of its judgment was imminent. And indeed, there was ample time to finalize the awarding process, considering that the expiring concession remains in place until the end of June.

In brief, a horror-story for consumers, which though presents a comic side.

Says Lottomatica MD Fabio Cairoli: “We are proud and happy with this award, because we always worked with great care and passion, conscious as we were to hold in our hands a precious jewel”. “I had no doubt” retorts Stanley CEO John Whittaker “and indeed that jewel, which ultimately consists of a normal fixed odd bet on numbers, properly ought to have been shared with the networks of all Italian concession-holders and that of Stanley. To achieve that, it would have been enough to insert Lotto within the “palinsesto complementare” (i.e. the official list of events on which bets may be placed) which is open to all lawful operators”

Be it as it may, Lottomatica thus happily enters into its third ten-year period of possession of the concession for the most widespread and lucrative number game in Italy and probably Europe.

Even prior to the launching of the process, anglo-maltese bookmaker Stanley had asked the Ministry of Finance and the ADM to reconsider the tender architecture, by switching from a mono-concession model fitting only too well the incumbent alone, to a multi-concession model more mindful of free competition and likely to produce greater returns for the awarding authority and ultimately the Exchequer. The authorities paid no heed to that request. Stanley consequently chose to challenge the tender, on the reasoning that it was designed in such a way, that only the incumbent concession-holder Lottomatica could qualify, no matter if individually or as the dominant partner of a JV. The merit case was argued last week, and the panel had indicated that the judgment would be handed down in a couple of months.

Yesterday, Stanley addressed a warning to the Ministry and the ADM not to proceed with the awarding of the concession to single bidder Lottomatica, and duly wait for the upcoming ruling of the Administrative Court on the lawfulness of the tender. The reply was strikingly prompt, and the agencies launched practically in real-time thereafter the news of the award deliberated by the ADM. In a country where the pace with which the Public Administration operates is not precisely swift as lightning for the vast majority of citizens and undertakings, such an extraordinary efficiency leaves one dumbfounded.

As it were, the most elementary principles of transparency and good and impartial administration seem to have been trampled on. Stanley has announced that it will challenge the award, without prejudice to any other action and remedy in any competent venue.

Said Stanley CEO John Whittaker: “I heard with disbelief about the real-time award of the Lotto concession to Lottomatica, based on terms of tender challenged in court and awaiting judgment, which point to a tailor-made architecture beyond one’s wildest imagination. I am truly sorry in seeing that the new Italian Government, which was able to gain much respect and visibility abroad for its vision and forward-looking capabilities, should have shown itself sadly inadequate to manage in a credible way a major European tender. We will, as usual, place full confidence in the Courts and will in the coming years leave no stone unturned to oppose this fresh injustice which, besides to Stanley, causes damage to all gambling concession-holders and millions of Italian consumers”.