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National Lottery apologises after top prizes worth €180k not included in scratch card games

The lottery regulator was notified of the issue earlier last month.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Updated Dec 11th 2019, 4:00 PM

THE NATIONAL LOTTERY has apologised after four jackpot prizes worth a total of €180,000 were left out of three scratch card games in recent years. 

Four of the top prizes were not included in three of the 178 scratch card games that have been offered since 2014. A spokesperson said the mistake was due to human error. 

The National Lottery apologised for the problem. Spokesperson Paul Bradley told RTÉ’s News at One programme that the mistake meant they were telling people they could win prizes that weren’t available on the cards.

“It’s important to note that the other games, lotto, EuroMillions etc., are completely unaffected by these errors and we’re very sorry that the mistake has taken place,” Bradley said.

It was human error and we’ve changed our processes and our controls, to improve them, so it doesn’t happen again.

A game called ‘Diamond Bingo Doubler’ and two versions of the ‘Congratulations’ game were affected by the issue. Only one of the cards is still for sale and the lottery began the process of withdrawing it this morning.

“We are desperately sorry and we want to ensure that people are treated fairly. It’s very important to us that they are reassured and our players are reassured,” Bradley added.

You must remember that the total amount of prizes that are impacted are less than 1% of 1% of all our prizes in the last five years.  

A lottery spokesperson confirmed that Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI), the operator of the lottery, will “forego any contribution from sales of these Christmas scratch cards”  by donating additional contributions to youth mental health charity Jigsaw.

The spokesperson said the lottery “took immediate steps to review” its entire game portfolio upon discovering the error. 

In a statement, the Office of the Regulator of the National Lottery said it was notified of the issue last month.

“Premier Lotteries Ireland DAC, the operator of the National Lottery, notified my Office of the anomalies in November 2019,” it said. 

The regulator said it had sought to ensure the lottery would find and implement a solution to return the value of the prizes to scratch card players at “the earliest opportunity”.

The statement added that a proposal to return the prize money through a special New Year’s draw, funded by the PLI, has been approved. 

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“I also determined that the affected scratch card game still on sale should be withdrawn,” the regulator’s statement said.   

Fianna Fáil’s finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has said this error raises “very serious questions” for the PLI and the lottery regulator. 

McGrath said he has written to the chairman of the Oireachtas Finance Committee to propose bringing the regulator and the operator to answer questions in front of the committee at the earliest date possible. 

“Today’s revelation will undoubtedly damage public trust and confidence in the national lottery,” McGrath said in a statement.

“Without the trust of the general public, the success of the national lottery is far from guaranteed. The fact that these prizes were not on offer for the past five years raises very serious questions for the national lottery.”

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