Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Sunday 24 September 2023 Dublin: 14°C
Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland
# Winnings
Questions raised about unclaimed money not reverting back to National Lottery prize fund
Expired unclaimed prizes can be used for the promotion of the National Lottery or the Lottery Games.

QUESTIONS HAVE BEEN raised about unclaimed money not being reverted to the prize fund under the new licence for the National Lottery.

In 2014, Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI) Limited paid €405 million for its 20-year licence to run the National Lottery.

The private company was set up in May 2013 and is backed by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and An Post among others.

The current licence defines an “expired unclaimed prize” as any prize not claimed within the time frame and in the manner specified in the relevant lottery game rules.

Speaking in the Dáil, Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty asked why all unclaimed prize money does not revert to the prize fund under the new licence for the national lottery.

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe said that “the licence provides that any expired unclaimed prizes shall be forfeited in favour of the licensee”.

According to the Minister, the expired unclaimed prizes can be used for the promotion of the National Lottery or the Lottery Games, in a manner determined by the licensee.

€16 million

A sum of €16 million in expired unclaimed prized arose under the previous Licence with An Post National Lottery Company.

The €16 million was noted in the regulator of the National Lottery’s report relating to expired unclaimed prizes before 31 December 2016.

Doherty asked if this money will be added to the prizes available as per the old licence, or if it will be used by the new licensee for advertising purposes.

In a statement to, the National Lottery gave the following response:

“The issue of the €16 million in unclaimed prizes at time of transition has been a matter of discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for some time.

We are hoping this issue is resolved as soon as possible. It is our position that the money goes back to the prize fund, as per the old licence.

However, Minister Donohoe said, “It should be noted that this is a complex legal matter requiring consideration of detailed technical and legal argument.

“Officials in my Department are consulting with the parties involved with a view to bringing the matter to a timely conclusion.”

Cash to Exchequer 

Even though the National Lottery was taken over by a private company, it must still give money for charity to the Exchequer. The license agreement requires the lottery operator to hand over about two-thirds of its revenue after prizes to charity.

After years of decline – the amount of cash given to the Exchequer by the National Lottery for good causes has started to increase.

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe stated that €2.26 billion has been transferred to the Exchequer from the National Lottery in the past 10 years.

From 2008 – 2017, the following amounts have been transferred:

  • 2008 – €265m
  • 2009 – €275m
  • 2010 – €250m
  • 2011 – €230m
  • 2012 – €220m
  • 2013 – €210m
  • 2014 – €178m
  • 2015 – €193m
  • 2016 – €219m
  • 2017 – €227m

The National Lottery says it is its mission to operate “a world class lottery raising funds for good causes on behalf of the government”.

“For almost 30 years, this fund has been allocated to good causes and worthwhile projects in Ireland.”

Read: Woman whose family won €5.4 million lotto jackpot hid winning ticket in a sports bra for a month>