Tuesday 12 December 2017

Howlin has reneged on 6pc Lotto margin pledge, say retailers

Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

A ROW is brewing between retailers and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin over profit margins on Lotto tickets.

Shop owners have been angered by what they claim is the failure of the minister to keep his commitment to protect 6pc National Lottery sales margins.

It comes after a new National Lottery Bill, published before Christmas, made no reference to the minister's commitment.

In a Seanad debate last May, Mr Howlin said that he had met retailers. "I intend to safeguard their margins in the legislation as well. That is important for them to know," he said.

In the debate, which discussed putting the operation of the Lotto out to tender, he also committed to ring-fencing 30.5pc of Lotto income for good causes by law. The Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association (CSNA), which represents 1,500 retailers, has now demanded a meeting with the minister to discuss the margin issue.

"We are very concerned and dismayed that the minister's assurances, given in the Seanad last May, are not included," Vincent Jennings, CSNA chief executive, said. "The minister has apparently reneged on that commitment."

Mr Jennings said that the CSNA had greeted the new Bill with dismay.

A spokesperson for the minister could not be contacted for comment last night.

The current Lotto licence, operated by An Post, expires in June.

Mr Howlin has confirmed that his officials have already met with potential bidders of the next licence, while also confirming that An Post will tender.

Irish Independent

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