Minister proposes ban on lottery betting in Ireland

The minister criticised bookmakers’ marketing practices, including offering free bets
The minister criticised bookmakers’ marketing practices, including offering free bets

Public expenditure minister Michael McGrath has proposed a ban on lottery betting in Ireland to avoid the undermining of the main lottery draws.

Ireland.- Public expenditure minister Michael McGrath has called for the introduction of new legislation that would prohibit lottery betting in Ireland.

The minister has written to the minister of state for law reform, James Browne, to ask him to introduce legislation in order to ban bookmakers from taking bets on the winning numbers of lottery draws such as the National Lottery and EuroMillions.

According to the Irish Independent newspaper, McGrath is concerned that bookmakers are undermining the main draws and misleading the public by offering similar products under the same brand names.

The minister also criticised bookmakers’ marketing practices such as offering free bets, discounts and loyalty schemes for lottery betting. The National Lottery is banned from using such practices. 

He is reported to believe that lottery betting is more addictive, with the potential to lead to problem gambling.

He also noted that unlike the National Lottery itself, revenue from lottery betting does not go to good causes.

Ireland’s National Lottery is operated by Premier Lotteries Ireland, whose shareholders include the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, An Post and the An Post Pension Fund.

A recent study by survey company Red C found that lottery betting accounts for 8 per cent of gambling in Ireland, equivalent to almost €400m in annual revenue.

It also found that 35 per cent of those who take part in lottery betting would play the National Lottery instead if lottery betting were prohibited.

New gaming regulator in Ireland

Browne, the minister of state for law reform, is still working on delayed legislation to introduce a new Irish gaming regulator to oversee the entire sector. 

The sector has been expecting new legislation for some time to keep up with changes in the industry. It is believed that new legislation will include a ban on credit card gambling like that introduced in the UK.

Browne is also expected to introduce mandatory affordability checks, restrictions on promotional offers and the creation of a social fund to pay for problem gambling support and treatment services.

A recent report from the Gambling Awareness Trust found support and treatment for problem gambling in Ireland to be lagging behind other countries in Western Europe.

Sentiment is increasingly turning against the gambling industry in Ireland, with several bodies calling for a ban on gambling advertising and sponsorship in sport.

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