Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan is set to take on the National Lottery once again, this time over its finances
Mr Durkan, who forced a guaranteed payout last year after months of Lotto Jackpot rollovers, said he raised the cost of advertising at a meeting with executive in Leinster House last week.
Now the Finance committee will call witnesses from Premier Lotteries Ireland, which operates the franchise (predominantly on behalf of a Canadian teachers’ pension fund).
Hearings are planned from when the Dáil resumes. “We expect them to appear before the committee again,” Mr Durkan said, against the backdrop of a current TV advert which is claiming that 90pc of money spent on tickets is returned to the community.
“It is extraordinary if it is true — and if it’s true, so much the better,” he said. Mr Durkan insisted he wanted to see underpinning information that would verify the assertion.
He noted that “spending on advertising is not going back into the community, unless you take a very broad definition”.
The 90pc figure would also mean only 10pc of income being allocated to administration and profit, which would be “extremely efficient”. He said overheads were normally in the 12-15pc bracket, leaving aside profits.
The Kildare North TD said that since the 90pc figure was being broadcast, it was necessary for public confidence to establish that it was fully correct, although he insisted he was not sceptical at this point and had no reason to doubt it.
The current television advert features a shopkeeper named Marion in the fictional village of Rathlooney telling customers that nine-tenths of Lotto spending is recycled back to the public itself.
She is widely doubted by locals and neighbours, until a “doctor” with a machine known as the “Fib Detector 2000” proves Marion is right and that her disbelievers are actually the ones spreading fibs.
A spokesman for the company said: “The 90pc of National Lottery revenue which is returned to communities does not include advertising spends.
“PLI cannot disclose a detailed breakdown of advertising spend as it is duty-bound to protect the National Lottery’s financial sustainability and commercial interests on behalf of the State.”
The National Lottery says that sales receipts are returned to communities in the form of prize winnings, allocations to good causes, and commission payments to retailers all over Ireland.
Here is the breakdown:
The National Lottery’s own figures show over €100 million annually in operating costs and profits.