Premier Lotteries Ireland to appear before Oireachtas committee

National Lottery operator PLI likely to be asked about crashes and terminals

Lotto machine: politicians are poised to ask PLI officials about the functioning of new ticket terminals supplied by Greek gaming giant Intralot.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Lotto machine: politicians are poised to ask PLI officials about the functioning of new ticket terminals supplied by Greek gaming giant Intralot. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 
National Lottery

Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI), which only took over the running of the franchise late last year, has been criticised over the introduction of new technology which retailers claim has undermined service levels and damaged sales.

Representatives of the company, including chief executive Dermot Griffin, are provisionally scheduled to appear before the committee next week. It is also expected to hear from the newly installed National Lottery regulator, Liam Sloyan, and from retailer groups.

The decision to the call in PLI, a consortium comprising An Post and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, owners of UK operator Camelot, was taken following discussions in private session.

Attention is likely to focus on the PLI’s decision to subcontract its telecommunications provision out to a third party in the UK called WestBase.

Network crash

Last Friday, separate technical problems downed ticket machines for two hours ahead of the EuroMillions draw, which the company blamed on a “firewall server malfunction”, which would also have been overseen by WestBase.

Politicians are also likely to ask Lotto officials about the functioning of new ticket terminals, supplied by Greek gaming giant Intralot, and the operation of separate in-shop ticket checkers, which at the moment can only be used to check tickets purchased under the former system.

Fianna Fáil’s Sean Fleming said there had been a “deterioration in service” in recent weeks, noting that the public was unhappy at having to rely on retail staff to check tickets. He said he wanted to know if assurances from the operator about the recent outages and the ticket terminals could be “independently verified” by the regulator.

Tara Buckley of retailers’ umbrella group RGData, who is also expected to address the committee, has called on Mr Sloyan to conduct an investigation into the recent postponement.

Mr Sloyan has requested a report from PLI on the incident.

The company is under pressure to reverse five years of declining sales to justify its hefty €405 million outlay for the Irish licence. It is relying on generating more online sales to boost revenue, which retailers fear may cannibalise part of the high street trade.

Boosting sales

After winning the licence, PLI hired Greek firm Intralot to overhaul the lottery’s ageing technology platform.

The financial terms of the contract have not been disclosed but it is thought to have cost less than the arrangement with former technology supplier Gtech, which was understood to be about €15 million-€18 million a year.