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Irish lawmakers look to crack down on private lotteries

Apr 27, 2021, 7:29 am

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New bill would prevent bookies from "piggybacking" on National Lottery

By Kate Northrop

Talks of tighter controls in the lottery and gaming industry to prevent bookies and commercial gambling operations from managing their own private lotteries are starting to ramp up in Ireland's Senate.

Irish lawmakers are trying to figure out how to stop bookmakers from "piggybacking" and "profiteering" from the National Lottery, similar to how a New Jersey man illegally operated his own private lottery based on the New Jersey Lottery's official Pick 6 results.

Private lotteries conduct their operations by allowing people to bet on the outcome of draws conducted by official government lotteries. It's essentially playing the lottery with altered prize structures and bet amounts but without the prospect of paying state and/or federal taxes.

That's exactly why Ireland is looking to crack down on those types of operations.

Irish Senator Barry Ward told the Senate last Monday that "bookmakers cannot continue to hitch [a] free ride with the National Lottery" and that "abuse of [the] National Lottery must be outlawed."

According to Ward, the National Lottery provides an important benefit for the taxpayer in that it gives back 27 cents of every €1 spent on lottery tickets to good causes. The Lottery also provides built-in protections for players, which limit the amount that any one player can spend in one day to €90 and restrict gambling after 10:00 pm. Ward argued that, since unregulated gambling operations do not offer those same protections, they do not keep the well-being of players in mind.

"We must prevent profiteering by private gambling organizations who piggyback on the National Lottery infrastructure without providing the same social dividend to the people of Ireland," he stated.

Ward also argued that private lotteries and bookies actively diminish the revenue generated by Lottery products and discourage contributions to funding that supports good causes and public programs.

"While the National Lottery funds innovation, community organizations and local projects throughout this country, private bookmakers make no such altruistic contribution," Ward contended. "Important national and local funding is provided to sports, arts and culture, health and wellbeing, heritage, and community and youth organizations by the National Lottery. It makes no sense that we should continue to allow private organizations to profit from the Lotto and other products that are put in place by the National Lottery."

Ward published details of his National Lottery (Amendment) Bill 2021, which will make it a criminal offence for a bookmaker to use the National Lottery or any of its products for the purposes of a betting offer and will extend the provisions of the National Lottery Act 2013 to increase penalties and allow the prosecution of corporate entities as well as individuals.

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