National Lottery scratch cards were illegally sold to underage individuals in almost four out of ten retail stores in Ireland, research has found.
The middle of the week saw the Office of the Regulator of the National Lottery (ORNL) publish a report following a secret investigation into the responsible gambling measures taken by the National Lottery. As part of the research, teams of mystery shoppers visited 510 retail shops, supermarkets and post offices across Ireland to try and buy a scratch card worth €1. The teams comprised of youngsters who were 15, 16 or 17 years of age to purchase the scratch cards and a qualified adult interviewer of the global market and opinion research firm Ipsos MRBI.
The underage test purchaser had to try buying a €1 scratch card. If questioned about their age, they had to give their true age, and if asked for ID, they had to say they were not carrying ID.
The research found that youngsters were only asked their age or for identification in about 63% of the time, which is about two-thirds of the places visited. The rest of the purchase attempts were successful. In 5% of cases where purchasers were asked about their age, the scratch card sales still succeeded. The research also found that mandatory signs saying that the products are sold only to persons “over 18” years of age were displayed only in 73% of the premises.
National Lottery Operator Says It Remains Responsible
Then, another survey was commissioned by the ORNL. Under the governance of the regulatory body, Ipsos MRBI reached 1005 children aged 10 to 17 about whether they had ever purchased tickets from the National Lottery themselves, using their own money. A total of 38 children, who represented up to 3.8%,
The so-called “mystery shoppers” participated in the test on behalf of the National Lottery regulatory body which oversees the application of gambling legislation regarding the sale of lottery products.
For the time being, the sale of National Lottery products to children is prohibited under the National Lottery Act 2013. Apart from that, a mandatory “Over 18” sign is required in every retail premise under the Codes of Practice, with the latter also requiring from retail agents to ask customers for ID whenever they are unsure whether a customer is aged 18 or not.
The results of the investigation were found concerning by the regulatory body which is responsible for monitoring and control of such products’ sales.
The National Lottery confirmed the findings and explained that it remained committed to undertaking the necessary measures to make sure that no more failures occur. It shared that customer protection has always been one of the paramount goals of its business. Since the secret survey was carried out, a special retail compliance manager has been appointed by the operator in order to make sure that vendors complied with the existing legislative rules. The company which has the licence to operate the Irish National Lottery, Premier Lotteries Ireland, also introduced branded age control signs and advertising in retail stores across the country.