The National Lottery is fighting back complaints about ads promoting community spending

The National Lottery has been the target of an unusually high number of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) after it launched a campaign to show where its earnings are going.

In the past three months, ASAI has filed 13 submissions — more than 40 percent of all complaints — against the campaign’s claim that 90 percent of the money spent on lottery tickets and scratch cards goes back into the “community.”

The complainants said there was a “lack of evidence and transparency in relation to the statement” and that retailers who receive 5 per cent Lotteriegeld in the form of commissions are not part of “the community”.

Some also claimed that lottery game money did not return to the community at all, but instead went to the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund, owner of lottery operator Premier Lotteries Ireland.

However, ASAI could not uphold the complaints, based on figures in the National Lottery’s audited accounts, which showed that only 10 percent of revenue went to running costs and winnings.

In its response, the National Lottery divided its 2021 community spending into three categories: prizes (56 percent), good causes (29 percent), and retailer commissions (5 percent).

The ad campaign in question, which ran on radio, television and online versions during the first half of the year, featured the 90-piece statement, broken down by the same categories but based on 2020 figures.

These numbers were broadly similar to the 2021 results, with slightly more money being spent on prizes and slightly less being spent on charity. The numbers for merchant commission and ongoing charges and profits were the same.

“We welcome the latest report from the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) which again confirms that 90% of the National Lottery goes to community advertising campaigns,” said a National Lottery spokesman.

“The National Lottery has always run iconic ads to help our players get more prize money, our 5,400 retail agents get more commissions and thousands of charities, community groups and sporting bodies across Ireland get more charitable funding.”

The campaign was launched after the National Lottery faced sustained public criticism over a three-month lottery rollover that left the grand prize unclaimed from September to December 2021.

The grand prize was eventually won by a bettor in Castlebar, Co Mayo, in January after Premier Lotteries Ireland received regulatory permission to hold a must-win draw after no grand prize had been awarded since June.

Premier Lotteries Ireland also agreed to hold a must-win draw in the future if there was no jackpot winner after reaching a new jackpot cap at five draws.

The highly unusual circumstances with no one winning the top-flight draw for half a year led to much media comment and a statement in Fine Gael North Kildare TD Bernard Durkan’s Dáil.

Mr Durkan had called for the must-win draw to restore public confidence in the National Lottery and said the six-month rollover was unsustainable.

The record-breaking jackpot of more than 19 million euros boosted sales and generated around 180 million euros in revenue, which helped lift the total turnover for games in the National Lottery above the 1 billion euro mark for the first time. The National Lottery is fighting back complaints about ads promoting community spending

Fry Electronics Team

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