Joint bid by An Post and Camelot is Lotto licence front-runner
A joint bid by An Post and the firm that operates the UK's lottery is seen as the early favourite to take on the running of the National Lottery.
The deadline for bids for the National Lottery, which is being sold off as part of the wider sale of state assets, passes today.
An Post and Camelot – which operates Britain's national lottery – are believed to have submitted a joint bid for the business.
The winning bid is expected to be announced next month.
Italian lottery operator G-Tech and Australian firm Tatts are both believed to have submitted separate bids.
As many as 10 bids may be made for the National Lottery, which is expected to fetch about €600m when it is sold off – although only about half that amount will finally make it to state coffers.
The terms of the sale were amended in June to allow about €300m of the proceeds of the sale to be spent on good causes.
Some €200m from the sale of the licence has been "ring-fenced" to be spent on the new children's hospital, with the rest of the funding coming from the health capital plan.
Earlier this summer, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin, whose department is running the sale process, said he was happy to have a lesser downpayment if it meant securing funding for various projects and charities.
"We've structured the deal so we have a very high payment for good causes and I don't want to diminish that," he said.
"There's a lot of conditionality with that and with margins for retailers, so I'm more content to have a lesser upfront payment," he added.
"We need to get money now to invest, but we also need to have a robust streaming fund for good causes," the minister added.
The lottery sale is the latest state asset to formally go on the block.
Bord Gais Energy is up for sale, while other semi-states such as national forestry agency Coillte are likely to be merged into other businesses such as Bord na Mona if they are not sold off themselves.
Meanwhile, NewEra – the agency created to oversee the semi-states – is conducting a review of numerous state businesses to assess their financial performance and whether there is room for taking out more costs.