Lotto players may face higher prices and more numbers

Private operator hints at future plans and defends franchise against recent criticism

Retailers claims they have suffered a fall-off in lotto sales since the transition to a new technology. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Retailers claims they have suffered a fall-off in lotto sales since the transition to a new technology. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

 

National Lottery players are almost certain to face higher prices and a bigger panel of numbers in the coming months as the new private operator seeks to recoup its €405 million outlay for the licence.

At an Oireachtas Finance Committee hearing yesterday, the chief executive of Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI) repeatedly declined to rule out changes to the current pricing structure or a widening of the existing 45-number matrix.

Dermot Griffin said the company would move to a “game development” phase once the current technology transition is complete, noting there was a strong requirement to raise funds for good causes.

Raise prices

The last time the National Lottery introduced changes to its basic pricing structure and playing format was in 2006 when it upped the price per line from €1 to €1.50 and added three extra numbers. The addition of extra numbers could prove controversial with players as it makes the probability of winning the top prize – currently about eight million to one – that bit more remote.

Mr Griffin was appearing before the finance committee in the wake of recent controversies concerning the lottery’s new ticket terminals. He admitted there had been “some teething problems” since moving to the new system last November but denied there had been fall-off in sales, as some retailers contended.

Lottery regulator Liam Sloyan told the committee that he had received a report from PLI regarding the recent outages and was currently reviewing it with a view to making recommendations .

Divergent views

Tara Buckley, of the retailers’ umbrella group RGdata, said the brand had been tarnished by recent problems and that her members had suffered a drop in lotto sales as a result. She also claimed there was a perception among customers that the prize money on scratch cards had been cut.

However, Joe Tierney, Navan newsagent and member of the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association, insisted many of the problems were being exaggerated and that some were taking on the form of “urban myth”.

“The new terminals are robust and have greater functionality than the old terminals. We have not seen a decline in sales, jackpot levels are as at the same if not larger than before,” he said.