The National Lottery Act 2013 was signed into law on 14 May 2013. The new Act repeals the original National Lottery Act 1986, provides a legislative basis for the operation of the National Lottery, and facilitates the Licence Competition for a new operator of the National Lottery.
The current National Lottery licence, held by An Post National Lottery Company, has expired, and the Government has invited parties to submit an expression of interest to participate in the competition to become the next licensee, for a 20 year exclusive licence. The Licence Competition commenced on 27 May 2013, with final bids due for submission on or before 16 September 2013. The new licence is due to be finalised with the preferred Applicant in November 2013.
The objective of the Licence Competition is to generate a substantial up-front fee for the Irish State, part of which will be used to finance the construction of the new National Children's Hospital. The State will also continue to benefit from the contributions to Good Causes over the life of the new licence.
Key Features of the Act
- Establishment of a new National Lottery Regulator, for a period not exceeding 7 years (and eligible for re-appointment for one additional term), who shall be independent of the Government.
- The Regulator will be funded by an annual levy paid by the operator of the Lottery.
- The functions of the new Regulator include ensuring: that the National Lottery is run with all due propriety, that the interests of participants in the National Lottery are protected, and that the long term sustainability of the National Lottery is safeguarded.
- The Regulator will monitor and enforce compliance by the operator with the terms and conditions of the licence.
- The Regulator must seek to ensure that revenues paid to the State, which are allocated to Good Causes, are as great as possible.
- The Regulator shall hold a competition in respect of the grant of a licence to a person to hold the National Lottery.
- The licence shall contain a code of practice regarding the operation of the National Lottery to be complied with by the operator.
- The Regulator may not amend a licence regarding:
- the duration of its period of operation,
- provisions governing the payment for good causes included in the licence,
- provisions governing the rate of commission payable to retailers included in the licence, or
- any list of prohibited games included in the licence.
- The Regulator may amend the terms or conditions of a licence only with the written consent of the licence holder where the licence provides that the term in question may only be altered with the consent of the licence holder.
- The licence holder may appeal an amendment to the licence, other than an amendment to which the licence holder has already given his or her consent under this section, to the High Court.
- The licence holder will continue to be operated by a distinct company, whose sole purpose will be the holding of the National Lottery under the licence.
- The Regulator has certain powers of enforcement. He or she may appoint a person to investigate and report on any apparent breach of the Act or terms or conditions of the licence. Failure to co-operate with an investigation, without reasonable excuse, is an offence and a person will be liable to a class a fine on summary conviction.
- The Regulator has the power to issue a direction or apply for an injunction, where an operator has breached the Act or a term or condition of the licence, or has failed to co-operate with an investigation. Where the operator fails to comply with a direction, the High Court may impose a financial sanction not exceeding €500,000 on the operator.
- The Regulator may revoke the licence in a number of specified situations. The licence holder may appeal the decision of the Regulator, to revoke the licence, to the High Court. In the event of a licence being revoked, the Regulator has the power to appoint a person to take over management of the operator.
Operation of National Lottery
- The total value of prizes distributed in the National Lottery in any financial year must be equal to or not less than 50% of the total monies received by the operator in that year in respect of the sale of Lottery tickets, or such other greater percentage as may be specified in the licence.
- An operator is empowered to sell National Lottery tickets over the internet, as well as through retail outlets.
- The proceeds of the sale of National Lottery tickets, after deduction of any remuneration paid to retailers of tickets, and such amounts in respect of prizes, shall be paid into the National Lottery Fund (to be managed and controlled by the Regulator). Monies paid into the Fund shall be applied for the purposes of one or more of the following "Good Causes", as the Government may determine:
- sport and recreation;
- national culture and heritage (including the Irish language);
- the arts;
- health of the community;
- youth, welfare and amenities;
- natural environment;
- such other objectives (if any) as the Government may determine.