Ireland National Lottery spent majority of unclaimed prize money on advertising

Dec 9, 2022, 5:03 pm (3 comments)

Ireland National Lottery

Lottery CEO defends use of unclaimed winnings for marketing as best way to promote good causes

By Kate Northrop

The Ireland National Lottery is defending itself against criticism for spending nearly the entire amount of unclaimed prize money on advertising.

Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI), the operator of the Ireland National Lottery, is dismissing claims that it did something wrong when it allocated an overwhelming majority of unclaimed winnings to marketing.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) met last month, where they learned that the Lottery spent €122 million out of the €124 million (US$130.6 million) in unclaimed prizes for 2015 through 2021 was spent solely on advertising. Only 2%, around just €2 million, went back to players in the form of additional prizes.

"In fairness, you're [mocking players], really, in terms of what you're giving towards top-up prizes," Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy said after learning of the spending. "You are going to the absolutely bare minimum."

Several committee members revealed that, had the Comptroller and Auditor General not disclosed these numbers, they would not have been made public.

"...We feel it wouldn't have been apparent to players... without the C&AG's report," Fine Gael's Jennifer Carroll MacNeill said, adding that the spending breakdown of unclaimed prize money was "of real concern."

In response, PLI CEO Andrew Algeo explained that spending on advertising is the best way to promote the National Lottery so as to increase revenue for good causes, and that the Lottery is simultaneously working in an "intensely competitive market."

"We make the decision based on what is the optimal use of that money in order to sustain the National Lottery and grow the amount of goes to good causes," Algeo said.

Algeo reasoned that, while some might be "irked" at the marketing spend, ticket sales have consistently increased since PLI had taken over as the Lottery's operator. The operator currently holds a 20-year contract to run Ireland's lottery until 2034.

The Lottery has raised about €1.7 billion (US$1.79 billion) for good causes since PLI's contract began in 2014, and that the proportion of unclaimed prizes has halved from 5.1% in 2015 to 2.9% last year.

PLI was ultimately the deciding entity on how to use the unclaimed prize money, but he added that they are only "a small part of the National Lottery."

Figuring out how to promote the National Lottery "might actually be one of the more critical decisions that PLI has to make, and we take it very seriously that we do it in a way which sustains the National Lottery as best we can," Algeo continued.

Thanks to dannyct for the tip.

Lottery Post Staff


Mata Garbo

This is money that has been won by the players, but had not been claimed. Common sense would say they should find a legitimate way to distribute that money to other players. To only allocate 2 percent to players while lining the pockets of your friends in the advertisement business is disgusting.



Who are the Einsteins that negotiated this contract, on behalf of the state, with the lottery operator? I certainly hope they didn't get a performance bonus!


Sounds like a s----y lottery outfit to me.    To heck with giving out more prizes to the players.  They might as well sell scratch tickets where the top prize tickets were forgotten to be printed.

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