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National Lottery to go global in bid to halt years of falling sales

THE National Lottery is hoping to arrest four years of declining sales by launching a 'worldwide' version of the Euromillions and boosting online sales with a new mobile-friendly website.

Chief executive Dermot Griffin revealed the new plans yesterday as he insisted that his company was "optimistic" of winning a new licence for the lottery in 2013, despite suffering another fall in revenues.

Sales at the National Lottery -- which includes the Lotto, Euromillions and scratch cards -- fell 1.3pc to €761.4m in 2011. The company's sales are now down more than 9pc from their 2008 peak of €840m.

Mr Griffin yesterday blamed the falling revenues on the recession, changing consumer habits, and lower jackpots.

"Our highest jackpot last year was €14m," he said. "The year before that it was €16m. When the jackpot is higher, more people enter."

Sales of the traditional Irish Lotto games were hardest hit, falling more than 12pc -- or €40m -- to €282m. The complementary Lotto Plus was down more than €11m, while Lotto 5-4-3-2-1 fell marginally.

The basic Euromillions game, which offers poorer odds of winning far greater amounts of money by taking part in a Europe-wide draw, enjoyed a 29pc rise in its sales. The €127.4m of basic Euromillions sales were boosted by another €43m of Euromillions Plus, some €10m higher than the previous year.

"The Euromillions has had exceptionally high growth," Mr Griffin said. "We're now looking at a concept for a world game that's planned for 2013. It would work with existing multi-jurisdictional lotteries; there are two blocs in the US, one in Australia, one in Scandinavia."

The National Lottery is also planning to improve its website to encourage more sales through mobile devices such as phones and tablets. Online sales brought in just €6.1m last year, or 0.8pc of total revenue.

The lottery company has an 'app' for mobile devices, but people are directed to the main website to buy tickets. The main website does not view well on mobile phones, and Mr Griffin said work was under way to create a new "mobile site".

There was a "lot of opportunity" for the National Lottery to grow online sales since the internet accounted for "15 to 20pc" of lottery revenue in markets such as Scandinavia.

The National Lottery must reapply for its licence next year, and would not be able to continue any of its activities in Ireland or overseas if its bid fails. Asked if he was "optimistic" about that application, Mr Griffin replied: "Yes."

Irish Independent