Monday, 27 Jan 2020

Independent inquiry now on cards after €180,000 blunder by lottery

The Government will consider launching an independent inquiry after National Lottery chiefs admitted leaving top prizes totalling €180,000 off its scratchcards for the last five years.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney told the Dáil it was a “serious issue” and that the Government was “not against the idea” of an independent investigation.

National Lottery chiefs issued an unprecedented apology for a “human error” which led to €180,000 of top prizes being left off four scratchcard panels since 2014.

Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI), which operates the National Lottery, discovered the error last month.

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Three prize panels worth €50,000 each in the Congratulations scratchcard and one panel worth €30,000 in the Diamond Bingo Doubler were omitted from games since PLI took over the lottery licence in 2014.

On Wednesday, PLI said new controls were in place to ensure it would not happen again and stressed that the missing prizes represented just 0.01pc of all prize money since 2014.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Mr Coveney said that “at a minimum” the operator and the lottery regulator should appear before an Oireachtas Committee.

“It is not acceptable to dismiss this as a human error,” Mr Coveney told the Dáil.

Mr Coveney was responding to Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty, who told the Dáil there were “serious questions” for the lottery regulator “when punters have been scammed in this regard”.

Mr Doherty said private operator PLI wrote its own code of conduct and that legislation needed to change and an investigation should be carried out.

He said the probability of the jackpot prize being missing was “one in a million” but the issues raised serious questions about the National Lottery.

Mr Doherty said it was not right that the National Lottery continued to allow people to purchase scratchcards up to this week, despite knowing the prize fund structure was not in line with what is approved by the regulator.

The Office of the Regulator of the National Lottery has said it will investigate whetherr the error amounts to a breach of the National Lottery Act or PLI’s licence. It became aware of the errors last month.

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