Business Irish

Sunday 15 December 2019

Lotto in talks over creating a billionaire with global lottery

Major push to grow sales as changeover looms

NUMBERS: Maria Doherty and the rest of her Lotto syndicate which won €4.8m in September. Photo: Damien Eagers
NUMBERS: Maria Doherty and the rest of her Lotto syndicate which won €4.8m in September. Photo: Damien Eagers

Nick Webb

The National Lottery is involved in talks to team up with other operators to create a global game that could see one golden ticket holder become a billionaire. It would be the biggest jackpot ever given away by Lottery companies.

The National Lottery is an active shareholder in the Euro Millions lottery group. This European "umbrella" group has held a series of talks with other lottery operators in the US and elsewhere about a global game, which may have a prize of one billion euro or else create "a shower of millionaires" around the world, according to sources.

The National Lottery is in a period of major change, following the acquisition of a 20-year operating licence from the state by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and An Post. The State sold the licence to the consortium of €405m, with the second instalment due to be received shortly.

The Lottery, headed up by Dermot Griffin, is mid- way through a huge capital expenditure programme to replace elderly terminals and retrain its 4,000 agents, ahead of a major growth push.

The new terminals will enable the Lottery to be more flexible with its offerings in terms of special offers or one-off games. It is expected that the transfer from the old terminals to the new operating system will take place before the end of the first quarter of 2015.

The lottery is understood to be focusing its attention on a concerted drive to ramp up its online and mobile sales, which are at far lower levels than its UK cousin - run by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan-backed Camelot.

Close to 17pc of UK lottery players buy tickets online, with Irish numbers in low single digits. However, a recent marketing campaign has boosted online player numbers. This was also helped by new rules to simplify the online registration of players.

Sales at the National Lottery fell for the fifth straight year in 2013, dropping to €685m. However, the improving economy and consumer confidence coupled with a "buzz" created by new games, better technology and bigger prizes are likely to see sales improve from recessionary troughs.

While viewer figures for the National Lottery's Winning Streak show remain strong on RTE, the company is understood to be examining a number of other potential television formats. A US 'real life monopoly' game, where winners actually buy real estate or hotels, has been examined by the Lottery here.

It is understood that €5m jackpots are the first "tipping point" when most people who don't normally take part in the games decide to buy tickets.

The second major "tipping point" occurs when jackpots pass the €10m mark. Around 2.2 million people play when jackpots reach these levels.

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