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Senator warns of need to stop 'Lotto junkies'

Will recent machine problems lead to a surge in online gambling?

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Updated: 17.10

A FINE GAEL Senator has warned that the recent glitches experienced by Lotto machines could lead to a surge in online gambling.

A number of technical problems in recent weeks meant terminals were unusable for a period of time, and one draw had to be postponed.

Paul Coghlan said he was concerned  about “the impact that these interruptions may have and that they may drive Lotto players away from ticket terminals in shops towards the online environment”.

Speaking in the Seanad today, Coghlan said the National Lottery has “made it clear that they see huge potential in growing the online sales channel”.

The Senator said lottery operators need to provide assurances that they will “introduce controls to ensure that we do not create online Lotto junkies”.

‘State-owned gambling’

Coghlan said there is “no doubt that the potential for irresponsible playing is greater online than in a face-to-face environment in shops.

This is particularly the case when you consider that the online national lottery account allows a customer to play up to €75 per day on National Lottery games and to keep €750 on account with the National Lottery. These are inordinate amounts of money for people to be spending on a state-owned form of gambling.

A spokeswoman told TheJournal.ie that Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI) is “committed to operating the National Lottery in a socially responsible way and is conscious of its responsibilities in relation to player protection, which it considers paramount”.

She noted that PLI meets international standards and has been awarded the World Lottery Association Responsible Gaming Framework Level 4 Certification, the highest level.

The spokeswoman also stated that game rules specify that players must be over 18 years of age, adding that the maximum daily spending limit of €75 is “lower than in many countries, including the UK”.

Questions to answer

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure Seán Fleming said the Lottery Regulator will “have a number of questions to answer about what action has been taken to address the technical blunders” when it appears before the Oireachtas finance committee next week.

“I will be seeking assurances that consumers will be protected from any threat of further jackpot cancellations and network collapses,” Fleming added.

Originally published: 15.40

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Órla Ryan

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