National Lottery forced to drop games 'attractive to children'
Scratch cards using the branding of the board game Monopoly were among 19 new games turned down by the regulator as she believed they would be "attractive to children".
Among other proposals turned down by the regulator were an "instant win" Snakes and Ladders Egypt game and one named Super Rich.
National Lottery Regulator Carol Boate yesterday appeared in front of the Oireachtas Finance Committee, where TDs expressed concern about an aggressive expansion of Lotto marketing.
It also emerged Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI), operator of the National Lottery, has been using unclaimed prize money to pay for its marketing and promotion.
There was €800m in Lotto ticket sales in 2017, up from €750m the year previously and €670m in 2015.
PLI was granted a 20-year licence to operate the National Lottery in 2014. It had previously been operated by An Post since its launch in 1986.
Ms Boate was asked by Sinn Féin senator Rose Conway Walsh what was being done to ensure under-18s were protected. She said some games proposed by PLI had been rejected including a number of Monopoly-branded scratch cards. It was refused because "it was attractive to children".
There were €2, €3, €5 and €10 versions of the card proposed.
"PLI does not design games that appeal to children and advertising of National Lottery games does not target under 18s," a statement from the National Lottery said.
"All our game rules and the terms and conditions of play specify that players must 18 years of age or over."
It said the proposed Monopoly game had been available under a previous lottery licence.
"Similar-themed games are popular with lottery players around the world. This game was to be targeted at adults, with the intention of having a nostalgic, retro appeal."
Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty pointed to approved games including one called Prize Ducks, and another called Hampers Sweets and Treats, and claimed these would be attractive to children.
"Every request for approval or consent is scrutinised to assess whether it complies with the Act and the licence.
"Each assessment will involve a wide range of aspects of the request and of the licence," Ms Boate said.
Committee chair Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness raised the issue of unclaimed prizes going towards the marketing budget. Ms Boate said that, before the 2014 licence, this funding always went towards jackpots, but this had changed. The regulator said marketing brought in more business, which in turn provided more resources for the good causes funded by the Lotto.