The Taoiseach has backed a call from TD Bernard Durkan to “see what is making those balls spin” in the “unwinnable” Lotto whose jackpot has rolled over 47 times.
Micheál Martin was responding in the Dáil on Wednesday to a renewed call from the Fine Gael TD to investigate why the record €19 million jackpot has not been won since June.
Mr Martin suggested that Mr Durkan invite the National Lottery regulator before the Oireachtas Finance Committee, which he is a member of, to answer his questions.
“I have noted of late Deputy Durkan’s tenacity and persistence on the issue of the lottery and the necessity for somebody to win the prize,” Mr Martin said.
“I think it should be, could be taken up by the Committee on Finance – you’re a member of that, I think you should invite in the regulator which governs the licensing of the Lotto.
“We all have high estimations of ourselves but my capacity to produce a winner in the lottery, Deputy Durkan, I would have to concede, I don’t think it’s within my grasp right now, but I wish you continued success in your efforts.”
Monte Carlo and Las Vegas
On Wednesday, Mr Durkan said the unwon jackpot follows “a precedent that was obviously set in 1913 in Monte Carlo and later in Las Vegas.”
“Players who have been buying their Lotto tickets twice a week since June are rightly fed up. It’s high time to see what’s going on inside that machine – let’s see what is making those balls spin,” Mr Durkan said.
“We haven’t seen a winner of the top prize in almost six months. How long more will people continue to buy tickets if they don’t believe they have a fair chance of winning?
“We have to get to the root of exactly what’s at play here – are the 47 rollovers to date just pure chance, or are there flaws that need to be addressed?
“People have questions, and the regulator, who is responsible for the monitoring of the operation of the Lotto, must provide us with answers. The regulator must outline what steps can be taken to provide the public with clarity and reassurance.”
The Lotto is like Manchester United, cash being splashed about every week, but a long barren spell sustains with nothing to show for it
Mr Durkan compared the Lotto to “like Manchester United, cash being splashed about every week, but a long barren spell sustains with nothing to show for it.”
“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,” he added.
“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.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the National Lottery said that the Lotto jackpot rolling over unclaimed for six months is “an unusual event”.
It said that the game is “not designed to go on this long”, but noted that 180 winners nationwide have shared €13.5 million in “boosted prize funds” due to the record jackpot rolling over.