Tuesday 21 January 2020

Numbers game

• I refer to your editorial of April 5 last in which you reported on the new National Lottery licence. While I respect the subjective nature of some of the comments made, there are a number of inaccuracies reported which require correction or at least clarification.

While sales did fall between 2008 and 2010, these compared very favourably with the actual fall in retail sales during the same period. In fact, the decline in sales was arrested by the introduction of a variety of innovative products which were well received by our players.

Perhaps your most strident criticism was about the company's performance on internet gaming. The facts are quite different. The National Lottery is governed by the National Lottery Act 1986. At that time the internet did not exist as we know it today and therefore the act was geared towards the retail channel.

As part of its last lottery licence the National Lottery developed internet games in 2006. The technology and the testing were completed at that time. Approval was requested to operate these games from the Regulator in 2006.

Unfortunately, the Regulator had concerns as to the operation of lottery games over the internet and whether they were compliant with existing National Lottery legislation, specifically in relation to the prohibition on selling tickets to persons under 18 years of age.

The National Lottery worked with the Regulator on ensuring that satisfactory controls and safeguards existed in relation to the internet channel that were compliant with National Lottery legislation and in March 2009 the Regulator gave approval to commence an Internet Pilot Programme on the basis of strict vetting controls with regard to age.

These controls 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 with a view to ensuring that all players were over 18.

This Pilot Programme has been running since 2009. Based on the feedback the company has received, the requirement to send in a copy of a passport or driving licence is discouraging players from completing the registration process.

The National Lottery has consistently proposed ways of significantly increasing the revenues from this channel, however, it is the view of the Regulator that a change in legislation is necessary if the requirement to submit a copy of a passport or driving licence is to be dropped.

Given the constraints that the company has operated under it is a considerable achievement to have recruited nearly 30,000 active online players, who generated sales of €3.7m in 2010.

To date, €3.7bn has been raised for good causes since the Lottery's launch. Of the monies raised by the National Lottery during 2010, a total of €718m was returned to the community and this represents a full 93pc of sales.

The National Lottery consistently ranks among the top-performing lotteries across the world, especially in countries with a similar population size.

Barney Whelan
Director of communications and corporate affairs, An Post

Irish Independent

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