Taoiseach backs calls for investigation into lottery rollover

Taoiseach backs calls for investigation into lottery rollover

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL Martin has backed calls from a Fine Gael TD who says that confidence in the National Lottery has "wavered in recent times" as a result of the jackpot rolling over for a record 23 weeks.

The jackpot is currently capped at €19m, where it has remained since September, with no more money to be added until that sum is won.

Instead, funds that would normally be added to the top prise are being added to the next tier.

"Given the important work done by the National Lottery and the public confidence needed to support them," Kildare North TD Bernard Durkan asked if it might be appropriate to refer the matter to the Committee of Budgetary Oversight and the Minister for Public Expenditure, with the possibility of the Regulator for the National Lottery also making an appearance.

Mr Durkan previously said the chances of winning "seem so remote that punters must be thinking Shergar would have a better chance at winning Squid Game", and that a full investigation would restore people's faith in the system.

"I'm not saying anything odd has happened, but it's the longest run in the history of the game so we need a bit of reassurance," he said.

Responding to Mr Durkan, who sits on both both the Oireachtas Finance and Public Expenditure committees, in the Dáil on Wednesday the Taoiseach said:

“I have noted, of late, Deputy Durkan’s tenacity and persistence on the issue of the lottery and the necessity for somebody to win the prize. I think it could be taken up by the Committee on Finance.

“I think you should invite in the regulator, which governs the licensing of the lotto.

“We all have high estimations of ourselves, but my capacity to produce a winner in the lottery, I would have to concede, I don’t think is within my grasp right now.”

When launched in 1988, lottery players in Ireland had 36 numbers from which to choose. That number has been raised over the years and currently players choose from 47 numbers.

“I have never agreed with Premier Lotteries Ireland’s decision to increase the number of balls to 47," Mr Durkan said.

"I’m old enough to remember 1986 when there were 36 balls and that’s how it should have stayed.

“I call on the Chief Executive of Premier Lotteries Ireland, Andrew Algeo, to drop a couple of balls as a mark of good faith and make the draw more winnable. In 1988, there was 36 balls, 39 in 1992, 42 in 1994, 45 in 2006 before reaching a hefty 47 in 2015.

“Mr Algeo, tear down those balls,” Deputy Durkan added.