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How chase for record Lotto jackpot helped operator make extra €180m

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Laura Scriney, owner of the Castlebar shop that sold the rollover jackpot winning ticket in January. Photo: Mac Innes Photography

Laura Scriney, owner of the Castlebar shop that sold the rollover jackpot winning ticket in January. Photo: Mac Innes Photography

Laura Scriney, owner of the Castlebar shop that sold the rollover jackpot winning ticket in January. Photo: Mac Innes Photography

The excitement over the three-month Lotto rollover at the end of 2021 generated about €180m in revenue for the National Lottery last year, new figures reveal.

The record-breaking jackpot of more than €19m created a surge in sales from September to December as week after week the top prize went unclaimed.

Increased interest due to the size of the prize on offer for such a long time helped push total lottery sales beyond the €1bn mark for the first time.

“Not since the beginning of the Lotto game in 1988 have we seen so much excitement and media attention on one of Ireland’s favourite games,” National Lottery chief executive Andrew Algeo said. “2021 will be known as the year the Lotto jackpot rolled to a historic high of €19.06m, breaking all previous Lotto records after reaching the jackpot cap at the end of September.”

The twice-weekly Lotto draw accounts for a significant proportion of revenue derived from draw-based games and had a noticeable impact on the financial performance of the National Lottery, a spokesperson said.

“The revenue generated and, as a result, prize money, retailer commission and good causes funding” generated during the roll-over period were “exceptional” compared to other periods, the spokesperson said.

The National Lottery said it could not disclose exactly how much extra money it took in because of the roll-over.

However its annual review showed €60.9m had been generated for “good causes” and that a little less than a third of sales go to such causes.

Not since the beginning of the Lotto game in 1988 have we seen so much excitement and media attention

The big prize was finally won in January by a punter in Castlebar, Co Mayo, after Premier Lotteries Ireland, the operator of the National Lottery, got regulatory permission to hold a must-win draw after no top prize had been awarded since June.

Premier Lotteries Ireland also agreed to hold a must-win draw in the future if there is no jackpot winner for five draws after a new jackpot cap has been reached.

The highly unusual circumstances whereby nobody won the high-profile draw for half a year prompted much media commentary and a statement in the Dáil from Fine Gael North Kildare TD Bernard Durkan.

Mr Durkan had called for the must-win draw to restore public confidence in the National Lottery, saying the six-month rollover was unsustainable.

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After his intervention, the National Lottery began taking out a series of advertisements to show how its revenues were spread about.

In its annual review, published today, the National Lottery said it achieved sales of €1.05bn last year, up from €918m in 2020.

Of that, €304m was distributed to what it calls “good causes”, while €586m was paid out in prizes for Lotto and other games including scratch cards.


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