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Addiction Counsellors 'Alarmed' & 'Worried' At National Lottery Sales Figures

Tom Douglas
Tom Douglas

02:07 22 Jul 2022

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The Lotto’s annual report for 2021, out today, shows an increase in ticket sales of over €130 million year on year.

It comes to a total of over €1 billion euro worth of tickets sold last year.

The period from this report also covers a historically long rollover of €19 million late last year.

It was eventually scooped after calls for a Must Win draw.

The Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath is quoted in the beginning of the report.

In that, he makes a short statement highlighting addiction.

He says, "Of course, we always need to be cognisant of problem gambling."

"In this regard, the onus remains on the National Lottery to only create games that conform to the highest standards of player protection thus ensuring that the National Lottery retains its position in Irish society as a positive force. "

In his statement he's also called 2021 "an exceptional year" for the lottery, thanked staff and wished it a happy 35 birthday.

Good Causes

CEO Andrew Algeo has stressed the positive impact of the game, with over €500m gone to winners and over €300m to Good Causes.

"Since 90% Of that billion euro sales goes back to the community, it means good news for the 1.4 million players that we have, each week., the thousands of good causes up and down the country who received over €300 million, which is also a record, as well as the 5,000 Lottery agents who received €55 million of commissions."

"Worrying Trend"

But Addiction Counsellor and former footballer Oisin McConville says it has a worrying side too.

He believes the traditional perceptions of gambling - often horses, dogs and sport in general - need to change:

"I think there is a cohort of people who are getting themselves into trouble with scratch cards, with excessive use of of the lottery as far as what outlet for their gambling is concerned."

"So, the traditional ways and traditional means of gambling, the things we thought we always had a perception was gambling and what wasn't gambling."

"I think that has changed over time, but I think it's definitely a worrying trend."

Online Space "Incredibly Difficult"

The Head of Addiction at Saint John Of God's Hospital is Professor Colin O'Gara.

He says more action is also needed to deter young people from falling into gambling addiction early.

Professor O'Gara believes advertising for gambling products like the lottery are very worrying - especially when it's available online:

"Yes, the online space is incredibly difficult to police."

"It's going to be very difficult to police and we're going to have to have a lot of funding towards having tech experts involved in this sector."

"We have to have funding that will attract tech experts in to help young people to move away from what is an incredibly attractive prospect, and once people get hooked, an incredibly addictive behaviour."

Support is available for problem gamblers from groups like Gamblers Anonymous, Extern, the Rutland Centre, Dunlewey and Samaritans.

Main image: CumOkolo / Alamy Stock Photo

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