The use and abuse of the National Lottery for private profit by commercial gambling outfits must be stopped, Fine Gael Spokesperson on Justice, Senator Barry Ward has said.
The National Lottery provides an important benefit for the taxpayer, as it gives back 27c of every €1 spent on National Lottery products as part of the good causes protocol. In addition to that, there are built-in protections for National Lottery consumers, which limit the amount that any one player can spend in one day and restrict gambling after certain hours. These are important aspects of the National Lottery that do not apply to the unregulated gambling and bookmaking industry.
Currently, private bookmakers and gambling companies allow their customers to bet on the outcome of the National Lottery, despite the fact that there are no formal restrictions on how much, how often or when they can gamble. There is also no return for the taxpayer.
Raising this issue in the Seanad today, Senator Ward said: “We must prevent profiteering by private gambling organisations who piggy-back on the National Lottery infrastructure without providing the same social dividend to the people of Ireland.
“While the National Lottery funds innovation, community organisations and local projects throughout this country, private bookmakers make no such altruistic contribution.
“Important national and local funding is provided to sports, arts and culture, health and wellbeing, heritage, and community and youth organisations by the National Lottery. It makes no sense that we should continue to allow private organisations to profit from the Lotto and other products that are put in place by the National Lottery.
“I will be introducing the National Lottery (Amendment) Bill 2021, which will make it an offence for a profit-driven bookmaker to hitch a free ride with the licensed and regulated National Lottery.
“The Bill will also extend the provisions of the National Lottery Act 2013, to increase penalties and allow the prosecution of corporate entities as well as individuals,” Senator Ward concluded.
Note to Editors:
The National Lottery, An Crannchur Náisiúnta, provides a lottery for the people of Ireland. Under the licence that has been granted to it, under the National Lottery Act 2013, to provide that service, it also returns approximately 27c in every euro earned, to the people of Ireland in funding for “good causes”, projects and schemes that benefit communities throughout Ireland. Additionally, the National Lottery has put in place a range of restrictions on its products to safeguard consumers and prevent abuse of the lottery games. For example, inter alia, the purchase of National Lottery products cannot take place after 10pm each day and a consumer may not spend more than €90 per day on National Lottery products.
These protections, and the social return for the people of Ireland, are important balances to the position that the National Lottery holds; they mean that we can all benefit from the operation of a national lottery.
These same balances do not necessarily apply to bookmakers and other providers of gambling or gaming products, who can, for example, provide gambling at all hours of the day and night, and who are not obliged to share any portion of their profits with communities or public bodies.
Some of those private or “for profit” providers of gambling or gaming products, use the National Lottery draws or other products to advance other gambling products or betting offers.
The National Lottery (Amendment) Bill 2021 seeks to outlaw the use by private operators of the National Lottery’s activities to profit or otherwise make further betting offers in three material respects:
- by making it a criminal offence for a bookmaker to use the National Lottery or any of its products for the purposes of a betting offer;
- by increasing the penalties for such an offence;
- by making bodies corporate, as well as individuals, criminally liable for breaches of this provision.