Lotto ticket terminals brought down by cyber attack

No winner of draw for €12m jackpot ahead of which ticket machines and website were down

The National Lottery website and ticket machines were brought down on Wednesday by a cyber attack, the operator has confirmed.

Lotto customers were unable to buy tickets for the draw for the €12 million jackpot, which was the largest for 18 months and not won, for up to two hours because of the disruption.

“Indications are that this morning’s technical issues were as a result of a DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack affecting our communications networks,” operator Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI) said in a statement.

“The issues were resolved by the National Lottery’s DDOS protection systems, limiting disruption and restoring all operations within two hours.”


DDOS attacks typically involve a flood of traffic aimed at disrupting service rather than a data breach.

PLI said the incident was still under investigation. “However, we can confirm that at no point was the National Lottery gaming system or player data affected,” it said.

National Lottery regulator Liam Sloyan has requested a report on the attack from PLI.

“The regulator was engaged with the operator throughout the period of disruption and will be seeking a report on what happened,” a spokeswoman said.

PLI, which took over the running of the franchise in 2014, has been in the spotlight over the performance of its new technology following several high-profile outages.

Last February, up to 3,500 terminals, almost the entire network, went down for several hours prior to a Wednesday night draw.

The problem, blamed on the lottery’s telecoms provider Telefónica, forced the franchise to defer a midweek draw for the first time in the lotto’s history.

Under the terms of the licence, PLI must provide the regulator with detailed descriptions of its technology specifications, level of resilience, reliability and availability of service.

The legislation governing the National Lottery provides for financial sanctions of up to €500,000 for breaches of the terms of the licence.

The tender process for the State’s lotto licence obliged entrants to demonstrate their ability to run a lottery without specifically marking bidders on their technical competence.

Retailers’ group RGData said its members experienced “further problems” with the lotto terminals in shops today. “This is very frustrating as it is a busy day for Lotto agents with the National Lottery draw of €12 million,” said the group’s director general Tara Buckley said.

PLI said sales for the draw were strong, exceeding average Wednesday night draw forecasts at this jackpot level.

The €12 million jackpot was the biggest since June, 2014, when a two-person syndicate from Donegal scooped €12.1 million. Saturday’s draw is expected to be for some €14 million, the operators said.

Last year, the operator controversially added two numbers to the draw, giving players a panel of 47 numbers to chose from instead of 45. This pushed the odds of winning the jackpot out to nearly 11 million to one. PLI also increased the cost of a minimum two-line play from €3 to €4, making the Irish lottery one of the most expensive lotteries in Europe.

The revamped format, which will also include larger payouts for smaller prizes, are designed to generate bigger jackpots.

National Lottery data shows sales can jump by as much as 80 per cent when jackpots hit €10 million, with more and more players being dragged in as the prize pot grows.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times