Contracts for €405m sale of National Lottery signed

Franchise in private ownership under deal for first time in 27-year history

Contracts for the €405 million sale of the National Lottery were finally signed today placing the franchise in private hands for the first time in its 27-year history.

This follows the conclusion of final-stage negotiations between the Government and the buyer, Premier LotteriesIreland - a consortium involving An Post and Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, owner of UK operator Camelot.

The incoming operator will now commence a transitioning process which will see it take over the running of the franchise in 12 months’ time.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said Premier Lotteries had met the essential requirements provided for under the terms of the Government's licence competition and had submitted the highest bid.


“We have a new operator that brings together valuable domestic expertise together with international experience.”

“I think Premier Lotteries will grow the business in a responsible manner and we can look forward to a greater annual revenue stream for good causes.”

Mr Howlin has previously indicated he believes funding for good causes could be grown from its current level of €235 million to €300 million in five years as the new operator opens the previously restricted online channel.

Before this can be achieved, however, the operator will have to halt five years of declining sales which has seen annual turnover drop from a 2008 high of €840 million to €735 million in 2012, and a possibly less last year.

The first instalment of the upfront payment, which has been earmarked for a range of local economy and infrastructural projects, is due to the paid within ten days of the signing of contracts.

The second part of the payment, which will fund the proposed National Children’s Hospital, will be paid in nine months time.

National Lottery boss and chief executive designate of Premier Lotteries, Dermot Griffin, said the new operator would invest in the business and its retail network, providing "state of the art" technology to facilitate game innovation.

However, he did not specify exactly how much would be spent.

Mr Griffin said the new system would provide “players with choice through the development of the online channel”.

The new licensing terms substantially relax the rules governing online sales.

Premier Lotteries is understood to have signed up Greek technology company Intralot to provide the technology for the franchise.

Under the terms of the licence, the new operator must roll-out a new technology infrastructure within the first 18 months of taking over.

Separately, a controversial demand by lottery staff for a once-off "recognition payment" as part of the privatisation will be adjudicated on by the Labour Court later this year, with the court's ruling binding on both sides.

Although no figure has been attached to the claim, unions are seeking the so called golden handcuff payment in recognition of the work done in bringing the business to the point where the Government will profit significantly from its sale.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times