Monday 18 December 2017

State pins hopes on Lotto windfall for new hospital

An Post chairman Donal Connell: partnership possible
An Post chairman Donal Connell: partnership possible

Siobhan Creaton

THE National Lottery may link with an international group to bid for the next licence that is expected to raise €600m for the National Children's Hospital.

An Post chairman Donal Connell has told politicians the National Lottery company "may or may not" enter a partnership to bid for the licence in 2013. Either way, it will be amongst the bidders, he said.

Speaking to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform yesterday, Mr Connell said the company had an "excellent record" in running the national lottery and was "very interested" in winning the next licence.

The Government is pinning its hopes on getting around €600m by extending the length of the licence to 25 years and selling it in such a way that it will get the money it needs upfront for the hospital.

Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin will announce details of how the sale of the licence will be handled early next year.

Mr Connell said it was difficult to place an exact value on the next licence until the details were revealed but said a figure of up to €600m was possible. "The size of the upfront payment depends on a number of factors but it is possible that could be hundreds of millions" he told the committee.

Under the new proposals, the fee for operating the licence that is paid to An Post will significantly rise. Last year, it was €2.8m but is expected to increase to €48m under the terms of the new licence.

Mr Connell said he was supportive of the minister's plans for the next licence and told the politicians he believed it would not result in less money going to good causes or more lax controls on gambling.

About 32c of every €1 spent with the National Lottery goes to good causes.

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