December 29, 2012 : NEW IRISH LOTTERY LAW TO INCLUDE ONLINE SERVICE
 
Plenty of competition to operate the new contract
 
An Post's 12 year contract to operate the Irish national lottery draws to a close mid-2013 and preparations are already in motion for some radical changes.
 
Government drafters have produced a new National Lottery Bill within the past two weeks for debate in parliament. The measure sets up a 20-year operating tender period for the lottery, for which commercial companies may compete, and includes provision for online activity by the punters and the introduction of a dedicated lottery regulator.
 
Competition is likely to be fierce, with present operator An Post throwing its hat into the ring, along with Lottomatica's GTech, UK operator Camelot and even Tatts from Australia indicating an interest in bidding for what could be a lucrative, long-running enterprise.
 
Due to time constraints as the government machine plods through the legislative and tender process, it is unlikely that a new operator will take control before 2014, and An Post will continue to run the operation on an extension to its contract until a new operator has been selected.
 
Early indications are that the successful operator will have to have solid cash reserves; the proposed upfront payment is Euro 400 million.
 
The government's Department of Public Expenditure and Reform acknowledged the importance of interactive sales channels in a statement, which commented that playing interactive games through the Internet is likely to be the best channel for lottery growth in future years.
 
Currently, online sales of lottery tickets in Ireland constitute less than 3 percent of sales, representing a weak comparison with the European average, where internet activity generates around 15 percent of sales.
 
The present operator, An Post perhaps optimistically forecasts that the lifting of offline registration procedures and restrictions on internet sales could boost the proportion of tickets sold online to 20 percent