Sinn Féin deputy Dáil leader Pearse Doherty TD, speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil today, has said an independent investigator should be appointed to go to the offices of Premier Lotteries and open their books, as provided for in legislation.
Teachta Doherty has also written to the Oireachtas Finance Committee requesting that the Regulator of the National Lottery and Premier Lotteries appear before the Committee under Section 47 of the National Lotteries Act.
Teachta Doherty said:
“Yesterday, Premier Lotteries Ireland – the private operator of the National Lottery – confirmed that €180,000 in prize money was left off three scratch card games.
“Two of these games – each called ‘Congratulations’, and sold at €5 per card – were missing three top prizes, each worth €50,000, while the other game was missing a top prize worth €30,000.
“It has emerged that one of these games was left on sale for six weeks after the issue became known.
“I play the lottery and I do so in the knowledge that many of the proceeds go to charitable causes and community projects, but also in the knowledge that the lottery is a form of gambling that requires proper regulation.
“The fact that four jackpot prizes across three games operated by Premier Lotteries were missing due to ‘human error’ or some improbable misfortune is hard to believe.
“In one of these games, the number of prizes in the game was designed to be no less than 976,500. The probability that, out of all the prizes, the jackpot prize would be missing is nearly one in a million.
“The probability that out of all the prizes, that four jackpot prizes across three games would be missing is of the factor of 1 in 167 billion billion.
“The numbers don’t stack up, and questions need to be answered by Premier Lotteries, by the Regulator and by the Government.
“Those who buy a scratch card or a lottery ticket don’t do so in the hope of winning the smallest prize, they play to win the biggest prize; yet a private operator that deals in odds every day managed to leave out four top prizes against astronomical odds.
“Questions need to be answered and actions taken immediately.
“Under legislation, Premier Lotteries can write their own code of conduct and have it rubber stamped by the Regulator. This legislation must be fixed to provide for more robust oversight.
“Secondly, the legislation provides for an investigator to be appointed to go to the offices of Premier Lotteries and open their books and I am calling for that to be done immediately.
“I have also written to the Chair of the Oireachtas Finance Committee requesting that the Regulator of the National Lottery and Premier Lotteries appear before the Committee under Section 47 of the National Lotteries Act.”