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Law hinders Lottery on net

Madam -- I refer to the report (Sunday Independent, Business, April 8, 2012) on the new Lottery licence in which there was strident criticism of the company's performance on internet gaming. The National Lottery is governed by the National Lottery Act 1986. In 1986 the internet did not exist as we know it today and therefore the procedures in the act were very much geared towards the retail channel.

As part of its last Lottery licence, the National Lottery developed internet games in 2006 and sought approval from the Regulator to operate these games. Unfortunately, the Regulator had concerns in relation to the prohibition on selling tickets to persons under 18. In March 2009 the Regulator gave approval for an internet pilot programme on the basis of strict vetting with regard to age. This required that in advance of allowing players to play online, the National Lottery must receive a paper copy of an individual's passport or driving licence as proof of age. This requirement is discouraging players, and it is the view of the Regulator that any change in this requirement would necessitate a change in legislation.

The National Lottery still operates this pilot programme but cannot commence a general marketing campaign to recruit players. Nevertheless we have recruited nearly 30,000 active online players, who generated sales of €3.7m in 2010, with a significant increase, soon to be reported, in 2011. We welcome the announcement that legislation will be introduced to allow the development of the internet channel.

Barney Whelan,

Director of Communications and Corporate Affairs,

An Post

Sunday Independent