Irish Bookmakers Face Lottery Betting Ban

The November 27 Irish Lotto draw again failed to see the jackpot won. There’s been no winner of the top prize (currently capped at €19m) since the draw held on June 5. More problems lie ahead as Irish bookies may be banned from taking bets on the draws.

They have done so for the past 30 years but a new bill will prevent them from doing so once it becomes law. Betting on the Lotto draws is popular in Ireland and often you can win more cash betting with the bookies than with the National Lottery. That’s because they offer different odds.

One player said that he had won tens of thousands on euros by betting with the bookies, rather than buying lottery tickets.

Now a bill is due to be discussed that will end all this betting on the National Lottery. Not surprisingly, lottery bosses are all in favour of it, bookmakers not so. The National Lottery say the bill would see more money raised for good causes, rather than going to a bookmaker. The bookmakers believe the bill would exclude competition, reduce revenue, and see jobs put at risk.

It’s a bit different when you decide to use the bookmakers for bets on the National Lottery. The price of lottery tickets is a fixed one, not so when you go to the bookmakers. Players can choose how many numbers they wish to bet on and of course how much they wish to wager. Only the jackpot is exempt from this.

If you’d matched three numbers in the Irish Lotto draw held on November 20, your €4 stake would have won you €9. However, a €1 bet on three numbers would (if the bonus is included) won you between $300 and $400.

There has been a long campaign to stop bookmakers taking bets on the lottery draws. The current lottery license has been granted to Premier Lotteries Ireland. Their 20-year-license was granted seven years ago. It states that 65% of gross revenue from gaming has to go to good causes each year.

One of the politicians behind the bill is Fine Gael senator Barry Ward. He discovered that a friend went to the bookies rather than buy lottery tickets. Then he looked at the issue of the amount given to good causes and does not want to see private companies “profiteering” on the lottery. Mr Ward believes that if the bill became law, it would not see bookmakers having to reduce staff levels.

Bookmakers claim their product has differences from how the lottery is played. They also believe that if their games were banned, those gambling on the lottery would immediately switch to buying lottery tickets.