Irish National Lottery reportedly up for sale

Premier Lotteries Ireland gained a 20-year licence in 2014.
Premier Lotteries Ireland gained a 20-year licence in 2014.

The lottery’s Canadian pension fund owner is said to want to sell the business after losing the UK National Lottery.

Ireland.- The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan (OTPP) recently sold National Lottery operator Camelot UK to Allywn after losing the Gambling Commission’s tender for the next licence to the Czech giant. Now it’s being reported that it also plans to leave its Irish business as well.

British and Irish media have reported that the OTPP plans to sell Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI), the private company that operates Ireland’s National Lottery, despite having more than a decade left on its current licence. The company bought a 20-year licence to run the lottery for €405m in 2014, beating competing bids from Italy’s Gtech and Australia’s Tatts.

The pension fund is said to have contracted the Swiss bank UBS to advise it on a potential sale. It’s sold both Camelot UK and the US-based Camelot Lottery Solutions to incoming UK National Lottery operator Allwyn

A spokeswoman for PLI said the company was aware of media reports about OTPP “exploring options for its shareholding in PLI” but that as a matter of policy, it does “not comment on market speculation or press rumour”.

It added that “any discussion regarding the ownership structure is a question for the shareholders and not something that we are in a position to comment on. PLI is wholly committed to delivering its core purpose, to operate a responsible and world-class lottery for the people of Ireland, raising much-needed good cause funds for the benefit of local communities throughout Ireland.”

When PLI won the Irish lottery licence, one of the strengths of its bid had been its online focus. Irish National Lottery ticket sales surpassed €1bn for the first time in 2021, raising €304m for good causes. PLI reported an operating profit of €25.3m, up from €14.6m in 2020.

The Irish lottery made headlines that year for an unprecedented period with no jackpot winners. Some 50 consecutive draws were made with no winner, with lengthened odds being blamed. The lottery has also been criticised for using unclaimed prizes to fund marketing and promotions.

A Comptroller and Auditor General report found that the lottery had generated more than €124m in unclaimed prizes since 2015 and by the end of 2021 had used almost €122m to promote its products. Questions were also raised over the transparency of the lottery’s distribution of funds to good causes.

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