Over €17 million in unclaimed prizes was last year transferred to the operator of the National Lottery, Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI).
The €17.054 million in unclaimed prizes for 2021 brings to €124 million in unclaimed lottery prizes since 2015 that has been transferred to PLI.
The €17 million total for 2021 is on a par with the €17 million that went unclaimed in 2020.
Some €19 million was unclaimed in both 2018 and 2019.
In a written Dáil response on the issue, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath told John McGuinness TD (Fianna Fáil) that in accordance with the lottery licence, the full value of the €17.054 million in unclaimed prizes for 2021 was transferred to the operator of the National Lottery to be spent solely on promoting the National Lottery.
Minister McGrath said: “The percentage of the €17.054 million that will be spent on incremental marketing and advertising, and the percentage that will be used for special draws or additional top-up prizes in 2022, is not yet known.”
The Minister said the lottery operator considers, in this regard, that details of the percentages of the 2021 spend on incremental marketing and advertising, and on special draws or additional top-up prizes are commercially sensitive under the licence and are not to be disclosed.
Mr McGrath said that it is further noted that the lottery regulator is required under a clause in the licence to seek the operator’s consent to release such information “and that consent has not been forthcoming in this instance”.
The operator – Irish Premier Lotteries Ireland DAC (PLI) – was awarded a 20-year licence by the Government in November 2014.
The most recent accounts for Premier Lotteries Ireland DAC show it recorded pretax profits of €22.3 million in 2020 as sales increased to €918.9 million.
During 2020 the firm paid out €253.6 million to "good causes". The shareholders of the lottery firm are Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (OTPP), An Post and An Post Pension Funds.
Mr McGuinness on Thursday called for “a clear and consistent approach to gambling regulation in this country”.
He said: “The Government’s proposal to have two regulatory regimes for the same sector is inefficient, nor does it ensure coherent application of rules and standards aimed at safeguarding consumers, especially young people.”