National Lottery not undermined by online rivals, says report

Online betting sites say they are not to blame for State lottery having less cash for charity

National lottery cash for good causes has fallen by €43 million over 10 years, according to a report from its rivals, which says their businesses do not threaten the State-owned draw.

A report published today by economist Jim Power for independent players Lottoland and Mylotto24 found no evidence that lottery betting undermines funding for good causes from their State-controlled competitor.

The report, An Assessment of the Online Gambling Market in Ireland, highlights a decline of €43 million for charities, community groups, sports bodies and other causes to €225 million last year from €268 million in 2008, a fall of 16 per cent.

However, Premier Lotteries Ireland, which now operates the State draw, points out that the National Lottery had its highest sales in 2008, which meant that returns to the causes it supports also peaked. The company says that sales and returns have been increasing in recent years.


Publishing the report, Mr Power, who lectures in University College Dublin, said that it was "factually incorrect" to argue that licensed online lottery betting in the Republic threatened the cash given by the State player to good causes.

"In fact, based on 2017 figures provided by the three leading European Lottery Betting Association members licensed and active in Ireland, their total combined draw-based betting turnover was only €1.4 million, 0.25 per cent of the €559 million draw-based sales turnover achieved by Premier Lotteries Ireland in the same period," Mr Power said.

Private sector

He argues that over the long term, the competition that private sector operators bring to the market should benefit the National Lottery.

“Moreover, increased competition in the digital channel is an essential aspect in achieving long-term sustainability for good-causes funding,” Mr Power added.

He claimed that Premier Lotteries Ireland’s strategy since it was awarded the national licence five years ago has been “massively at odds” with a consumer trend that favours more online lottery betting.

These operators are clearly cannibalising our games and denying good causes from additional funding

"Based on 2017 figures shared at Oireachtas committee hearings, the digital channel only accounted for 6.5 per cent of National Lottery sales in Ireland compared to 19.5 per cent in the UK," he said.

Premier Lotteries Ireland challenged the argument that private-sector competitors posed no threat to good-cause funding.

“These operators are clearly cannibalising our games and denying good causes from additional funding, which is incredibly impactful on communities across the country,” the company said.

‘Lack of understanding’

Premier added that report’s analysis demonstrated an “inherent lack of understanding” of the National Lottery, which is treated separately and distinctly from others because of the benefits if provides to society.

“More than €5.3 billion has been raised for good causes in Ireland since the National Lottery was set up 31 years ago, money that has transformed communities right across the country,” Premier argued.

“Premier Lotteries Ireland has recorded three consecutive years of growth in funds generated for good causes since it won the licence: €188 million in 2015; €213.3 million in 2016 and €226.3 million in 2017,” its statement added.

The company also pointed out that the State used the €405 million that Premier paid for its licence for a number of important purposes, including the development of a new National Children’s Hospital.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas