Law allowing for sale of national lottery licence passed

Bill passed by 90 votes to 42 with Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and a number of Independents opposed

National Lottery: Dáil has passed legislation to allow for the sale of the national lottery licence for an extended 20-year period.

National Lottery: Dáil has passed legislation to allow for the sale of the national lottery licence for an extended 20-year period.

 

The Dáil has passed legislation to allow for the sale of the national lottery licence for an extended 20-year period.

The National Lottery Bill was passed by 90 votes to 42 with Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and a number of Independent TDs opposing the sale of the licence. The legislation allows for a bidding process to sell the licence to an operator to run the lottery.

The State will receive a substantial upfront payment from the licensee and the Government has said it will still retain significant annual income for good causes.

The legislation, which now goes to the Seanad, provides for the establishment of a lottery regulator independent of the Government. The regulator will be funded by an annual levy paid by the operator of the lottery.

Under the revised legislation internet ticket sales will no longer be restricted; these are seen as the main growth area of lottery sales.


Amendment
During yesterday’s report stage debate on the legislation, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin accepted an amendment from Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan to include the natural environment on the list of good causes receiving funding, which also includes the Irish language, the arts, community health, youth welfare and amenities.

Ms O’Sullivan said the Irish Environmental Network and the Irish Wildlife Trust do important work relating to the maintenance of healthy water and soils and clear air. “If we cannot do that, the current economic recession will be nothing compared to what we will face in a recession affecting the natural environment unless we look after it.”

Mr Howlin said he was concerned to ensure the categories of good causes “are not broadened to such an extent as to dilute their impact”.

But he said TDs on all sides had “made a compelling case for broadening the scope of the definition” and including work that could “usefully address many of the environmental projects people undertake”.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald expressed her opposition to the winding-up of the An Post national lottery company.

Ms McDonald said that over the past 25 years the company had made more than €12 billion in sales, provided €6 billion in prizes and raised €4 billion for good causes.

‘Exemplary record’
“It is an exemplary record,” she said, adding: “I am quite happy with the status quo with the national lottery. There is no compelling argument for a change or for moving it to a for-profit model.”