Premier Lotteries Ireland, DAC, the National Lottery’s operator and steward, have welcomed the July 12 vote by Seanad Éireann in support of the National Lottery Amendment Bill (2021), which seeks to ban the practice of betting on National Lottery draws.
In a media statement, Premier Lotteries described the Seanad’s decision as “a positive step towards protecting the National Lottery’s ability to generate funds for Good Causes and towards protecting young and at-risk people from unregulated gambling and gaming products”. Premier Lotteries Ireland called for the swift enactment of the bill and the implementation of a lotto betting ban as soon as possible. “The Oireachtas established the National Lottery as a State Asset to generate money for Good Causes through a heavily regulated framework,” said the statement. “This objective is being directly impacted by the growth in the practice of Lottery Betting.”
Red C research, conducted on behalf of Premier Lotteries Ireland, indicates that Lottery Betting could be generating as much as €570m per annum for bookies. If this practice were banned, the research estimates it would generate €63m in Good Causes funding, while also yielding an estimated €13.7m for the National Lottery’s 5,400 retailer partners across Irish communities. Ireland: an outlier on lottery betting bans Most other European countries ban lottery betting, according to the Premier Lotteries statement, which describes Ireland as “an outlier in not doing so”.
The statement argues that a ban on lottery betting:
1. Prevents confusion between the National Lottery, which is regulated and State-owned, and materially different gambling entities and their products that are currently unregulated
2. Prevents ‘lead-in’ where, for example, those at risk are exposed to unregulated gambling products online while attempting to partake in National Lottery games;
3. Protects the financial sustainability of the State’s asset, the National Lottery.
The Premier Lotteries statement argued that at least 17 EU member states have legal restrictions on lottery betting and these regulations are consistent with EU membership. It further explained that the UK recently banned betting on EuroMillions, having never allowed betting on its own lottery. “The National Lottery is heavily regulated and intensively controlled, with strong levels of player protection,” the statement continued. “Many of these restrictions do not apply to commercial lotto betting. Lotto betting generates substantial revenue and contributes to problem gambling off the back of the State’s National Lottery.”
Expropriating Ireland’s National Lottery If enacted, the National Lottery (Amendment Bill) will “preclude bookies offering bets specifically on National Lottery draws and prevent them from expropriating Ireland’s National Lottery,” the statement went on, noting how the Bill “will not preclude them from offering bets on multiple other products, including virtual lotteries, to their customers”. Premier Lotteries Ireland asked bookmakers, both online and on the high street, “to stop using the National Lottery to sell gambling products and attract new customers,” the statement said. “Lotto betting reduces the money available for prizes, retailers and Good Causes, while exposing young and ‘at risk’ people to less regulated gambling products.”