Controversy over Lotto rollovers heats up as Taoiseach backs calls for investigation
A TD has said it is "high time to see what’s going on inside that machine".
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has backed calls for the National Lottery regulator to appear before a Dáil Committee to be quizzed on the game's current lengthy rollover.
The twice-weekly National Lottery draw's jackpot has not been won since the first week of June.
Last week, Fine Gael TD for Kildare North Bernard Durkan called for an "urgent probe" into the draw, arguing that the current jackpot is unwinnable.
"This didn't happen in Ronan Collins' day," the TD said at the time.
On Wednesday (24 November) in the Dáil, Durkan raised the issue again to the Taoiseach.
"This afternoon I seek to raise, Taoiseach, the concern expressed by hundreds of thousands of National Lottery players who have supported a good cause for many many years and whose confidence has wavered in recent times by virtue of the fact that the main prize has been rolled over for almost six months," he said.
"Given the important work done by the National Lottery and the public confidence needed to support it, can I ask Taoiseach if it might now be appropriate to refer the matter to the Committee of Budgetary Oversight and the Minister and with the possibility of the regulator making an appearance in order to expedite the review already in hand in the Minister's department?"
“Confidence in the Lotto has wavered in recent times by virtue of the fact that the main prize has been rolled over for almost six months.”
—@BernardDurkanTD on why the National Lotto Regular must come before an Oireachtas Committeehttps://t.co/vtQMKeZJ8C pic.twitter.com/sjqlsN6BsM
— Fine Gael (@FineGael) November 24, 2021
In response, the Taoiseach said he noted the TD's "tenacity and persistence" on the issue.
"I think it should be, could be, taken up by the Committee on Finance... I think you should invite in the regulator which governs the licensing of the Lotto."
He then added: "We all have high estimations of ourselves but my capacity to produce a winner in the lottery Deputy Durkan, I'll have to concede - I don't think it's within my grasp right now," provoking chuckles from the Dáil.
In a statement, Durkan said on Wednesday that it was "high time to see what’s going on inside that machine," before adding: "Let’s see what is making those balls spin".
"Sales are up, yet the winners are down. The Lotto is like Manchester United, cash being splashed about every week, but a long barren spell sustains with nothing to show for it," he stated.
“I have written to the Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath, whose department oversees the National Lotto, to express my concern. I am aware he has commissioned a report into the transparency of the distribution of Lotto funding, but we need to go further and investigate the operation of the game itself now.
“I am asking the regulator, out of respect to the public, to appear before the Oireachtas Committee and explain this situation so that players are provided with the assurance they need to continue playing our National Lotto."
Main image via Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie