Published: July 8, 2022

Ireland: Lottery credit card ban backed by Oireachtas committee chairman

James Lawless says legislation should prohibit public’s use of credit to buy Lotto tickets

The chairman of an influential Oireachtas committee favours banning the use of credit cards to buy National Lottery tickets.

The lottery bars customers from using credit cards to play online but the shops responsible for 80 per cent of its sales allow this.

James Lawless, chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, which recently reported on planned new laws to regulate gambling, says he favours barring the use of credit cards to buy National Lottery tickets.

Mr Lawless said he was surprised to learn that the National Lottery continued to accept credit card payments when most of the gambling industry had stopped the practice.

“The same rules should apply to the National Lottery, it would make sense,” he added.

The Fianna Fáil TD argued that extending the ban to the lottery would level the playing field between it and the rest of the betting industry.

The Irish Bookmakers’ Association, whose members own 760 of the Republic’s 790 bookie shops and include Paddy Power, Boylesports and Ladbrokes, voluntarily stopped accepting credit cards in betting offices and digitally on January 1st.

Formalising bookie ban

In its report on the proposed Gambling Regulation Bill, the justice committee recommended that the new law should formalise this ban while extending it to all forms of credit. Mr Lawless said this should be extended to the National Lottery.

His remarks come as the Seanad prepares to debate the National Lottery (Amendment) Bill next week. This aims to prevent bookmakers and private sector operators such as Lottoland from offering bets on the National Lottery. Other European countries with national lotteries have a similar ban.

Sharon Byrne, chairwoman of the Irish Bookmakers’ Association, said the organisation’s voluntary credit card ban was largely working well.

She pointed out that there was very little evidence that those who used credit cards to bet were more susceptible to gambling problems than others.

However, the association went ahead with the ban on the basis that the cards are still a form of credit, effectively meaning those using the cards to bet were gambling with money that was not theirs. “We try to do whatever is in the customer’s interest,” said Ms Byrne.

She agreed that the ban should be extended to the National Lottery. “We think all gambling should not accept credit cards, or any type of credit, in the interests of customer protection,” Ms Byrne added.

The National Lottery pointed out it is governed by specific legislation, so is not subject to the same laws as those that cover the rest of the betting industry. The new regulation Bill will not apply to it. The company has its own regulator who must approve all its games.

The lottery also said its spending limits are far lower than other operators and it does not offer incentives designed to encourage customers to continue betting.

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