Lottery's €232m fund for good causes lowest in five years


THE NATIONAL Lottery raised €232 million for good causes last year, the lowest amount in five years, on the back of falling ticket sales and a reduction in the overall allocation to lottery-funded projects.

According to its annual report, which will be published today, the company generated sales of €761 million from lottery tickets and scratch cards in 2011, a decline of 1.4 per cent on the previous year

However, it said this was achieved in a “very challenging” economic environment where the average retail spend fell by 5 per cent.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin is finalising the terms of a new 20- year licence to run the business which will be the subject of a bidding process later this year.

In 2011, projects supported by the lottery received €231.9 million of the €761.4 million generated by the business, representing 30.5 per cent of the total.

While Mr Howlin has pledged to maintain this level of allocation as a condition of the new licence, 30.5 per cent still represents a substantially smaller share of the pot than at any time in the previous eight years. The good cause fund generated by lottery sales is distributed by the Government to a range of charities, sports organisations and community groups.

The report showed punters shared winnings of €422.5 million last year, up on the €419.9 million of 2010. Overall, there were 25 jackpot wins last year, with 23 players becoming millionaires.

The biggest single jackpot win of the year was €11 million won by the McIntyre family from Belmullet, Co Mayo, in September.

The figures showed Lotto and Lotto Plus games generated 50 per cent of overall revenue with sales of €379 million.

Sales of its EuroMillions game rose by 29 per cent to €127.4 million with an additional Tuesday night draw attracting more players. Scratch card sales also increased, from €153 million in 2010 to €158.4 million.

While online sales increased by 65 per cent to €6.1 million, the company has been criticised for failing to take advantage of the surge in internet use.

However, chief executive Dermot Griffin said it was operating in a “severely restricted” environment, reflecting the “pre-internet terms” of its licence which forces players to go through a registration process to play online.

He envisaged 15-20 per cent of sales could be generated from online sales under less strict licensing terms.