Lotto bosses are refusing to comment on claims that prices for National Lottery games will increase within the next few months and that more balls will be added to draws — decreasing the chances of winning.
Representatives from Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI), the new operators of the lottery licence, appeared before a finance committee in the Oireachtas yesterday.
Despite repeated questions from Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald, PLI chief executive Dermot Griffin refused to say whether there are proposals to raise prices or add more numbers to draws.
After asking the same question a number of times, the Sinn Féin deputy leader demanded a definitive answer: “I just want you to tell me yes or no. As we speak do you have something on the table of your board that plans to either increase numbers or increase price? That’s all I want to know.”
Mr Griffin again refused to give a straight answer. “We will move to game development once we’re finished the transition process,” he said.
The committee met to consider the operations of the National Lottery in light of recent technological faults with its new system, resulting in the cancellation of a jackpot draw last month.
Mr Griffin described the event as a rare occurrence, saying a report on the incident has already been completed and submitted to the regulator with a view to preventing a repeat.
Sean Fleming (FF) appeared unconvinced, questioning the operator’s technological choices and the powers of the regulator. “Most people would consider going from broadband back to a wireless system a retrograde step rather than a positive step,” he said.
“You’re the first business I’ve heard is going backwards in technology rather than forward in technology and I can only presume it’s for cost-saving measures.”
Ms McDonald also raised concerns about a “shoddy” approach to technology in order to cut costs. “There’s obviously a concern that the technical solutions and customer support is below par,” she said.
Mr Griffin defended PLI’s choice of technology, explaining that both 3G and broadband are being used in retailers’ ticket terminals, and that this system can be upgraded to 4G over time.
“We have, we feel, a very modern and advanced telecoms solution. The solution is based on a roaming SIM card,” he said.
“What that means, in effect, is where we install these roaming SIM cards into the retail terminals, we get the ability to be able to utilise all of the Irish mobile phone networks. That’s Vodafone O2 Ireland/Three, and Meteor, and we can pick the strongest signal so that gives us a very high percentage of coverage.
“There are places that don’t have 3G and there are sites where broadband is the better solution than 3G and we have that implemented in the network as well.”
In relation to the recent outages of ticket terminals experienced by retailers across the country, Mr Griffin said there will always be initial problems with such a “huge undertaking”.
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