National Lottery and good causes

 

A chara, – It was disappointing to read the article “Lotto price rises have not helped those in need” (Opinion & Analysis, September 8th).

While the price of playing two lines of Lotto with Lotto Plus has increased from €5 to €6, it failed to point out that this price increase means that returns to good causes, prizes for players and commissions for retailers are all expected to increase. Nearly 30 cent in every euro spent on our games goes to good causes. Approximately 57 cent is returned to players in prizes, and six cent to our retailers in commission. So about 90 cent in every euro goes back to the people of Ireland.

In addition to these benefits, the new Lotto Plus game enhancements mean the chances of winning any prize across both games has improved from 1 in 17 to 1 in 10. And the top prize in Lotto Plus one has doubled from €500,000 to €1 million. Through the game changes we hope to create approximately 16 Irish millionaires a year. On an average Saturday night we will have over 100,000 prize winners, compared to 65,000 before the game changes.

The article referred to the Government privatisation of the operation of the National Lottery four years ago, when it awarded a 20-year licence to Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI), whose shareholders are Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, An Post and An Post Pension Funds. As custodians of this much-loved national institution, our focus is on growing the National Lottery, so the Government will have a healthy National Lottery at the end of the licence period in 16 years.

The article ignores the fact that the €405 million the Government was paid by PLI for the licence has gone to support important Irish infrastructural projects. €210 million is going towards the cost of building the new National Children’s Hospital, which will benefit Irish children for generations to come.

Since the National Lottery was established in 1987 more than €5.3 billion has been raised for good causes. Annual contributions did dip after 2011 due to the economic recession and the fact that sales decreased in the downturn. But since 2015, sales have been back on an upward curve and our contribution to good causes is also growing. Last year we raised €226 million for good causes, which is approximately €620,000 a day.

We are working hard to raise awareness of good causes and to educate our players about where the money goes. This year we launched the first National Lottery Good Causes Awards to honour the inspiring work that is being done around Ireland in the areas of health, sport, youth, community, arts, culture, heritage and the Irish language thanks to funding good causes. We had 530 entries and look forward to the awards finals which will take place in early November 2018.

We are proud of our achievements and work diligently to protect the reputation of the National Lottery. The biggest threat to the National Lottery currently is unregulated, off-shore, bet-on-lottery operators. There are currently 15 such operators active on the Irish market using a remote bookmaker’s licence. They do not operate the same strict responsible play controls we do (we want lots of people to play our games – but to spend within their means and to play responsibly and for fun) and they do not give back substantially to good causes.

We are urging the Government to ban these operators from being able to take bets on our games before they start to impact on the people’s National Lottery, such as happened in Australia and the UK.

If we all care about the National Lottery and its commitment to good causes, it is threats like these that we really need to take notice of. – Yours, etc,

DERMOT GRIFFIN,

Chief Executive,

Premier Lotteries

Ireland DAC,

Abbey Street,

Dublin 1.