Irish National Lottery to Introduce Internet Offer

Irish authorities are preparing a draft version of the new National Lottery Bill to be submitted for debate in parliament as An Post's 12-year contract for operating the Irish national lottery approaches the expiry date in mid-2013.

According to the preliminary communication, the government is ready to introduce some radical changes to the existing lottery system.

Namely, the lottery operating tender period will be extended to a 20-year contract and will include provision for online activity by the punters and introduction of a dedicated lottery supervisory body.

The Irish Department of Public Expenditure and Reform issued a statement acknowledging the importance of alternative sales channels with a note that playing interactive games online is expected to be the best channel for lottery expansion in future.

The European average of online sales of lottery tickets stands at 15% of sales, while in Ireland this figure hardly reaches 3% of sales. As per the optimistic forecast given by An Post, lifting of offline registration procedures and restrictions on internet sales could increase the percentage of tickets sold via internet to even 20%.

Judging by the terms of the deal, quite a few commercial companies will be interested in bidding for this long-term and advantageous operator position. The current operator An Post has already confirmed its intention to take part in the race, but the fierce competition will also include Lottomatica's GTech, UK-based Camelot, Tatts from Australia and more prospective operators. The successful bidder will be required to have solid cash reserves and pay Euro 400 million upfront.

An Post will continue to run the operation on the basis of an extended contract until a new operator has been selected, which is not likely to happen before 2014 mainly due to time constraints of the legislative and tender procedures.

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