New figures show a surge in complaints to Lottery regulator surge -
There was a significant increase in the number of complaints to the Regulator of the National Lottery last year, according to new figures released by the watchdog.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show there was a more than 70pc increase in complaints to the regulator over the course of a year.
The large majority of the complaints received by the watchdog from members of the public relate to online gambling games available on the National Lottery's website.
The regulator was established in 2014 after the State awarded the licence to run the National Lottery to an international consortium.
In 2015, the first full year the regulator was in operation, it received 31 complaints about the service from the public and retailers.
Last year, it received 53 complaints and in the first two months of 2017, it received four complaints.
Over the past two years, 30 customers have cited their "online experience" with the Lotto as the source of their complaint. While 23 people complained about "game design/price", according to the regulator.
Expired scratch cards were a source of grievance for nine customers, and 13 complaints related to "information provided" by the National Lottery.
The regulator said one complaint was "not related to the Lottery" and another related to the "quality of materials" used.
The National Lottery was mired in controversy two years ago when a weekly draw had to be postponed for the first time in almost 30 years due to technical problems with retail ticket machines.
However, according to the regulator's figures, there was just three complaints from retailers in 2015 relating to that technical issue.
The watchdog explained that it would not release details of any of the complaints it received from the public or retailers in order to protect the privacy of complainants.
"It is my view that persons who approach this office with a complaint relating to the National Lottery do so in the knowledge and expectation that information supplied by them will be treated in strict confidence," a spokesman said.
"It is essential that players of the National Lottery feel free to exercise their right to file complaints with this office without a concern that the details of their complaints (even with the redaction of personal information) would be released under the Freedom of Information Act," he added.
National Lottery spokesperson Miriam Donohoe yesterday said there had been a huge increase in the number of people signing up to its online gaming service in the past two years.
"The number of online players registered with the National Lottery has more than doubled from the beginning of 2015 to the end of 2016, something which may account for the increase in complaints. The number of players registered at the start of 2015 was 140,000. This increased to 225,000 at the end of that year, and the figure at the end of 2016 was 340,000," she said.
"The National Lottery does all it can to make the online playing experience as good as possible for all our players," she added.