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Irish National Lottery operator hit with €150k penalty

| By Zak Thomas-Akoo
The Irish lottery regulator has hit National Lottery operator, Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI), with a €150,000 (£128,130/$160,880) penalty for self-exclusion breaches.

The Regulator of the National Lottery said PLI had breached the terms of its licence by allowing formerly self-excluded players to open new accounts and buy tickets.

The regulator did not require PLI to offer a self-exclusion option to players under its licence. However, after the operator created the option in 2019, it said PLI was on the hook for making sure the system worked correctly.

As such, the lottery regulator opted to withhold €150,000 in payments to PLI. It sent the money to the exchequer for good causes. The sanction is the first time the Regulator of the National Lottery withheld payment to PLI for a licence breach.

Operator deletes self-excluded accounts

The issue dates from 2021 when a PLI algorithm deleted 126 accounts belonging to self-excluded customers. Normally, the operator must delete closed accounts after two years to comply with GDPR laws.

However, the regulator said the self-excluded accounts should have been kept aside to prevent the owners from opening new profiles.

The Regulator of the National Lottery highlighted 16 self-excluded customers who were able to open a new account. Of these, 10 purchased tickets, spending a total of €3,292. Additionally, four of these users received marketing emails from PLI.

“After consideration of the investigator’s report and the operator’s representations, I determined that the operator had breached the licence,” said the regulator’s chief, Carol Boate.

“Having offered a permanent self-exclusion facility as a responsible gaming measure, the operator was obliged to put in place the operational means to determine that persons seeking to purchase tickets had not previously opted for permanent self-exclusion.”

FDJ acquires PLI from pension fund

In July, French national lottery operator Française des Jeux group (FDJ) announced it would be acquiring PLI in a €350m deal. FDJ bought the operator off the Ontario Teachers’ Pension, An Post and An Post Pension fund.

PLI holds the exclusive rights to the Irish National Lottery until 2034. The operator – which won the contract in 2014 – said the deal would not affect the company’s licence.  

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