ppearing before an Oireachtas Committee on Tuesday, Tara Buckley, director general of RGData, a representative association for more than 4,000 independent retailers, said her organization was concerned about the increase of online games available to play on the National Lottery website.
The office of the National Lottery regulator was established by the National Lottery Act 2013, which also paved the way for the privatization of the franchise in 2015. Mr Sloyan, whose job is to monitor and enforce compliance in the sector, is also due to appear before the committee.
Ms Buckley said her organisation has had little contact with the regulator since his appointment despite RGData members being affected by the technical outages that led to a National Lottery draw being postponed for the first time in late 2015.
Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI) was awarded a 20-year licence to operate the National Lottery in late 2014 after paying the State €405 million
Under the new operator, there has been a proliferation of online games amid concern around higher rates of problem gambling.
Currently, there are 21 different so-called “instant games” that can be played online, including two that aren’t available in a scratchcard version, on the National Lottery website. This is in addition to the traditional lottery and Euromillions draws.
RGData, which has previously criticised the regulator for inaction, voiced concern about the growth in online gaming and its possible impact on individuals with gambling addictions who can now play games anywhere, anytime.
Ms Buckley said her members would like to see the regulator do more to show he is safeguarding the interests of the community.
“The regulator should outline the measures he has taken to protect vulnerable players and to replicate the types of controls on purchases in traditional shops,” she said
Ms Buckely said retailers also wanted to know if the regulator was monitoring the huge growth in online Lotto sites with no links to licensed national lotteries and no obligation to contribute towards good causes.
She said there was concern that consumers were buying tickets thinking they were officially sanctioned.
Ms Buckley said since it took over the franchise, PLI had “ramped up its expansion of the National Lottery” and was intent on becoming a €1 billion business, making it critical that Mr Sloyan be seen to be active in regulating the sector.
In addition to questioning why there has still been no independent and authoritative explanation for the series of technical outages that led to a National Lottery draw being postponed in late 2015, she also asked whether the regulator has considered the consequences of a plan to make it possible for people to buy lottery tickets in any outlet with a point of sale terminal.
“RGData fully accepts that the regulator has a new brief and seems not to have had a significant level of expertise within his office from people formerly involved in regulating lotteries so there has been a steep learning curve,” said Ms Buckley.
However, she said the public needed to have confidence that an active regulator is on the job.