Published: February 18, 2018

Operator of Irish National Lottery pushing Government to outlaw ‘parasitic activities’ of unregulated, offshore companies who offer odds on outcome of draw

While they are primarily worried about online activities, bookie shops face being impacted by any legislation

THE number could be up for punters who bet on the Lotto via the bookies, the Irish Sun on Sunday has learned.

The operator of the national game is pushing the Government to outlaw the “parasitic activities” of unregulated, offshore companies who offer odds on the outcome of the national draw.

While they are primarily worried about online activities, bookie shops face being impacted by any legislation — in a similar fashion as has applied across the water in Britain.

Premier Lotteries Ireland have met Ministers, including Paschal Donohoe, with a view to a “legislative solution to prevent damage to the sustainability of the National Lottery and Good Cause Fund”.

This comes after the growth in online businesses — such as Lottoland, MyLotto 24 and MultiLotto — which offer people the chance to wager on the outcomes of draws.

Unlike the national game, these companies don’t have to make a donation to sports clubs or charities.

PLI fear they will lose “hundreds of millions” of euro over the period of their licence which will have a knock-on effect and diminish the amount that goes to good causes — as 30 cent in every euro goes back to communities.

The law being pushed for, we understand, would be similar to the UK where outside bets on their national draw are not allowed and also applies to bookies.

Speaking to the Irish Sun on Sunday, a spokeswoman for Premier Lotteries Ireland said: “The National Lottery is ­concerned at the growth of unregulated, offshore, bet-on-lottery operators over the last 18 months.

“The parasitic activities of these lotteries are posing a serious threat to the National Lottery, and in turn the millions raised annually for good causes. We urge the Government to take urgent action to protect the National Lottery from this threat.

“The National Lottery was set up with the express purpose of raising funds for good causes. In 30 years more than €5billion has been raised, having a huge impact on communities nationwide and Irish life in general.

“There is a loophole in the current regulatory environment which allows betting on the outcome of lotteries.

“Offshore betting companies — underwritten by insurance policies — are exploiting this loophole.”

There are 15 “licensed remote bookmakers” who do not fall under the remit of the Lotto regulator.

These include BoyleSports, LottoLand, William Hill, Bet365 and Unibet, based in Gibraltar, the UK’s My Lotto 24, and World Lottery Club in the Isle of Man plus Malta’s and MultiLotto.

In February so far, there were four BoyleSports winners on Lotto draws.

One punter bagged €11,000 via a €3 bet in Galway in the Plus Two draw, a Kerry player bagged €35,825 thanks to a €2 bet on Plus One while a Meath punter won €11,302 for a €2 stake in Lotto Plus 1.

Another punter scooped an eye-watering €250,000 when he landed five numbers.

And a spokesman for the bookie said: “BoyleSports is and always has been committed to the proper regulation of gambling in Ireland.

In particular it is important to ensure that offshore operators are properly regulated.

“We think punters dealing with a regulated bookmaker should be free to bet on what they choose.”

Minister of State for eGovernment, Patrick Donovan, is due to meet PLI reps in the coming weeks, we have learned.

A spokesman for Public Expenditure said they were committed to “engaging further” both with the regulator plus PLI “in respect of reviewing the impacts of these online betting websites on the Irish National Lottery and in examining any potential actions that could be considered to address these issues”.

Slamming their online rivals, the Premier Lottery Ireland spokeswoman told us: “They utilise the names of ‘Lotto’ and ‘EuroMillions’, potentially leading players to believe they are participating in National Lottery games and contributing to good causes. In fact, they are just betting on the outcome of games.”

But a spokesman said: “Lottoland’s lottery betting turnover in Ireland in 2017 was 0.11 per cent of PLI’s turnover in 2016.

PLI’s turnover and profits continue to grow, meaning that they have one of the most profitable licenses in the world.

“Our niche offering compliments the well-established existing market for lottery play and betting in Ireland.

“We are fully licensed as Remote Betting Intermediaries in Ireland since 2016, with all the relevant checks and controls involved. Claims that we are ‘offshore’, ‘not officially sanctioned’ or ‘unregulated’ are clearly nonsense.”

And the PLI spokeswoman added: “It is estimated the cumulative detrimental impact on returns to good causes over the remainder of the National Lottery Licence could run to hundreds of millions on the basis of the offshore operators continuing to grow their business.”

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