COMMERCIAL radio stations rake in hundreds of thousands of euro in profits every year from the Rehab Bingo, the Irish Independent has learned.
But people playing the game at home every day are never told that the station keeps half of the profits from the game.
Rehab Radio Bingo is played in almost every county, with numbers read out several times a day to listeners, and prizes ranging from €200 to €20,000.
Bingo books cost between €3 and €4 and are sold through newsagents and pubs, with commission ranging between 10pc and 20pc for the retailers.
After other costs and prizes, the stations and Rehab share the profits. "It (the money) is split 50-50," admitted one radio station insider.
"It's a purely commercial venture. Everyone wins; the station gets revenue and the charity gets money out of it."
Radio station websites regularly carry news about winners, details on how to play the game and where to buy bingo books.
However, no references are made to the dividend paid to the stations.
We have learned one local radio station earned more than €80,000 in profits from the bingo game last year.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter revealed in the Dail earlier this week that Rehab Bingo had total sales of almost €3.2m, generating a profit of €548,000.
Neither Rehab nor the radio representative the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland would comment on the scheme despite attempts to get a response.
However, Donegal TD Padraig Mac Lochlainn, who has a private members bill before the Dail to regulate charities, says radio listeners need to know where their money is going. "As far as I am concerned, this Rehab Bingo scheme needs to be scrutinised in the same way as the lottery tickets. It's in the public interest," he said.
"If someone is paying €4 to play a game, that player needs to know what portion of that goes directly to Rehab and who gets the rest so that they can make an informed choice."
A spokeswoman for the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland would not comment on the scheme. "These are commercial contracts and are therefore commercially sensitive and it would be inappropriate to make them public."