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Lottery scratch card prizes were 'omitted due to human error', inquiry finds

The National Lottery previously apologised that four of the top prizes were not included in certain games in recent years.
Oct 8th 2020, 12:57 PM 38,633 34

SCRATCH CARD PRIZES were omitted due to “human error and inadequate control measures”, a report by the Regulator of the National Lottery has found.

The regulator has today released the findings of an inquiry into three scratch card games operated by Premier Lotteries Ireland DAC (PLI).

In December 2019, the government announced it was to open an independent investigation into how four jackpot prizes worth a total of €180,000 were left out of three scratch card games in recent years.

The National Lottery previously apologised that four of the top prizes were not included in three of the 178 scratch card games that had been offered since 2014. A spokesperson said at the time that the mistake was due to human error.

The regulator’s inquiry focused on incorrect numbers of top prizes attached to two scratch card games from 2019 (Congratulations 186 and Congratulations 223), and a scratch card game that ran in 2015 (Diamond Bingo Doubler), where the stated number of top prizes available did not in fact match the number of top prizes approved for each game originally.

The regulator, Carol Boate, found that the breaches arose “due to human error and inadequate controls on the part of [PLI]“.

The report notes: “Having completed her inquiry, the Regulator is satisfied that the Operator acted transparently and in good faith, that information was not withheld from the Regulator, and that PLI staff had (mistakenly) believed the games were correctly run.

“In addition, the Operator has incurred the financial cost of rectifying the issue.”

The regulator determined it was not necessary to withhold payment to PLI in order to rectify non-compliance. The key findings of the report include the following:

  • Scratch card prizes were omitted due to human error and inadequate control measures on the part of PLI
  • Three provisions of the National Lottery Act 2013 and licence were breached in relation to this matter
  • The regulator is satisfied that PLI acted transparently and in good faith, has put in place effective controls to prevent recurrence and incurred the cost of rectifying the issue
  • The value of the prizes was returned to players at the earliest opportunity
  • Returns to good causes were not harmed
  • Player participation in National Lottery games was not adversely impacted

The matter does not concern scratch card games in circulation today, and the regulator has checked that this issue did not arise in relation to any other scratch card or lottery games.

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The regulator has determined that PLI breached three provisions of the National Lottery Act 2013 and licence in relation to the errors. These report notes that these are “the first-ever breaches of this kind” and comprise:

  • failures to hold three lottery games in accordance with the rules in force
  • failures to ensure that statements regarding games were true
  • failures to have an adequate system of internal control to provide assurance of compliance with the relevant provisions of the act and licence

To return the value of prizes to players, PLI implemented a New Year’s Special Draw, approved by the regulator, whereby €180,000 of the operator’s income was returned to players in guaranteed prizes, all of which have now been claimed.

To ensure that PLI did not benefit financially from the special draw, a €50,000 donation was made to a mental health charity, the report notes.

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Órla Ryan

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