Scratch cards sold to minors in four out of 10 shops, survey reveals

‘Mystery shoppers’ aged between 15 and 17 carried out test for National Lottery watchdog

According to its 2017 annual report, over 1.4m people played National Lottery games on a regular basis that year. This represents more than 40% of adults in Ireland. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

According to its 2017 annual report, over 1.4m people played National Lottery games on a regular basis that year. This represents more than 40% of adults in Ireland. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Scratch cards were illegally sold to minors in almost four out of 10 Irish retail outlets, during a survey undertaken to assess compliance.

Research conducted across 510 shops, supermarkets and post offices found that underage purchasers were only asked their age or for identification two-thirds (63 per cent) of the time.

Overall, 38 per cent of purchase attempts succeeded. In 5 per cent of cases where the age of the purchaser was queried, the €1 scratch card sales still went ahead.

So-called “mystery shoppers”, aged between 15 and 17 years, carried out the test on behalf of the National Lottery regulator which oversees the application of laws governing the sale of lottery products.

It was undertaken last year by IpsosMRBI and was the first research of its kind in Ireland. Results were published on Wednesday.

The findings also showed that mandatory signs advertising “Over 18” sales rules were only displayed in 73 per cent of premises.

The National Lottery Act 2013 prohibits the sale of products to anyone under 18 years of age.

“The National Lottery is at an important juncture in that it has recently expanded its retail estate and developed a new system of oversight of its retail agents,” the report noted.

‘Socially responsible’

In response, the National Lottery acknowledged the findings and said it was committed to undertaking further work to prevent its recurrence.

“Protection of participants is at the centre of our business,” it said. “We are, and continue to be, committed to operating at all times in a socially responsible way and are conscious of our responsibilities in this regard.”

Since the survey was carried out, the company has appointed a retail compliance manager to ensure vendors were in full compliance with the law. It has also introduced branded “age control” advertising in stores.

The licence to operate the National Lottery was granted to Premier Lotteries Ireland in 2014. In 2017, it transferred €227 million to support good causes. This rose each year from a baseline of €178 million.

According to its 2017 annual report, more than 1.4 million people played National Lottery games on a regular basis that year. This represents more than 40 per cent of adults in Ireland.

Ticket sales for 2017 amounted to €800 million, up from €750 million in 2016.