Lotto a winner as operating profit jumps by 64% to €14.6m

Games create 33 new millionaires in 2020 with €253m going to good causes

The Lotto game paid out 19 prizes in excess of €1 million, with a €10.7 million jackpot in Cork the last year largest lotto jackpot of the year. Photograph: iStock

The Lotto game paid out 19 prizes in excess of €1 million, with a €10.7 million jackpot in Cork the last year largest lotto jackpot of the year. Photograph: iStock

 

National Lottery sales rose just shy of 4 per cent to €918.9 million last year, despite the pandemic, with a record €529 million in prizes distributed over the 12-month period.

Operating profit for the company came in at €14.6 million during the year, up almost two-thirds on the €8.9 million recorded in 2019. In total, the value of prizes rose 6 per cent rise compared to the previous year, while €253.6 million was distributed to good causes.

The franchise, which is run by Canadian-owned operator Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI), has raised more than €1.35 billion for good causes since taking over the running of the National Lottery in 2014. PLI is operating the business on a 20-year licence.

Jackpot

Some 33 new lotto millionaires were added during the year. There were two EuroMillions winners in Dublin and Mayo who won €49.5 million and €17 million respectively. The Lotto game paid out 19 prizes in excess of €1 million, with a €10.7 million jackpot in Cork the largest lotto jackpot of the year.

Chief executive Andrew Algeo said 85 per cent of the company’s business came from retail outlets, with the remainder coming from its online platforms. “The digital business grew during the year, reflecting the choice customers made which was to stay at home and play their national lottery games online,” he said.

There was a broad increase in the number of customers using the company’s digital platforms across all age groups although the highest growth rate was in the 50-plus age group.

Asked whether consumers would face any price increases on the games this year, Mr Algeo confirmed they wouldn’t.

About 1.3 million people played National Lottery games on a regular basis. For every euro spent, about 57.6 cent was returned in prizes, 28.1 cent went to good causes and six cent went on retailers’ commission.

Bookmakers

Asked about headwinds facing the business, Mr Algeo said the company continues to be “materially concerned by bookmakers offering betting on the national lottery”.

“When a bet is taken on an Irish lottery game, no money goes to good causes and betting is largely unregulated in Ireland. Our market research points to approximately €60 million being lost to good causes,” he added.

The company estimates that about 12 per cent of adults in the Republic bet on the national lottery in bookmakers. That represents turnover of about €600 million.

“The player doesn’t benefit from the protection the National Lottery provides,” said Mr Algeo. Measures the National Lottery has introduced to protect players include a ban on credit cards online; limited scratch-card purchases per transaction; and players cannot play on the company’s digital channels after 11pm until 7am.

Some €16 million of historic, expired unclaimed prize money was transferred to the exchequer during the year for use by Government. Those funds were used to support the response of the health service to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The growth in National Lottery’s sales has continued into 2021, with Mr Algeo noting his expectation that “by the end of the year we will be a modest way ahead of last year”.