Lottery licence sale Bill due next month


LEGISLATION TO allow for the sale of the National Lottery licence, which will part-fund the new children’s hospital, will be published next month following initial approval by Government.

The draft heads of the new National Lottery Bill were approved by Cabinet at its last meeting on July 26th, according to a spokeswoman for Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin.

Mr Howlin has said the building of the national children’s hospital could be part-funded by a “front-load payment” secured from the next licence to operate the National Lottery. The upfront payment to the State could be in the region of €500 million, while some €200 million could go to the children’s hospital project.

Mr Howlin’s officials have met and held conference calls with potential bidders for the licence. An Post has operated the National Lottery since it was established in 1986. The new licence will be for a 20-year period.

The department will engage external advisers to provide financial and commercial advice in relation to the competition. A spokeswoman for Mr Howlin said this was considered appropriate given the complexity of the process involved in the competition for the next licence.

The deadline for tenders for the provision of advice is next Monday and the advisers are expected to be appointed next month. A request for tender was published on July 16th. The advisers will be required to provide advice in relation to the structure of the competition as well as the evaluation of bids for the new licence.

The National Lottery Act, enacted in 1986, has been revised following work on the existing legislation by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in consultation with the office of the Attorney General.

Following approval of the draft heads of a new Bill by Government last month, the next step is for a new National Lottery Bill to be published towards the end of September. Mr Howlin’s officials have also met retailers’ organisations and the Minister has promised to safeguard retailers’ margins under the terms of the next licence.

The ongoing provision of a fixed percentage of annual lottery turnover for so-called “good causes” will be a condition of the licence. The percentage will be 30.5 per cent, which was the level that was achieved last year.

Mr Howlin told the Dáil last month: “The new licence will also involve an upfront payment to the State, with some of the payment being used to help fund the building of the proposed new national children’s hospital.”

The contentious issue of a location for the proposed national children’s hospital has not been brought to Cabinet yet. Following An Bord Pleanála’s rejection of plans for the Mater hospital site due to its height, among other reasons, the choice now is between a reduced-scale project at the Mater or the selection of a new location.