If the government decision to, in 2014, privatise the National Lottery seemed bizarre, then it seems even more so now. After all, if a company could run it and make a profit, why could the State not do the same? Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI) then paid €405m for the licence, which is due to expire in 2034. That’s just over €20m a year — and what good business that has proved for PLI.
The Office of the Regulator of the National Lottery records that €18,993,483 was forfeited by lottery prize winners last year, because they did not collect winnings within 90 days. However, only €187,400 was kept in play through extra prizes. Over €90m in unclaimed prizes has been returned to PLI since November 2014, almost a quarter of what they paid for the licence.
PLI is a consortium controlled by An Post, An Post Pensions Fund, and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which also owns Camelot, the UK lottery operator. In Britain, unclaimed prizes go to good causes after 180 days.
Why is it different here? Who benefits?