Big-prize Lotto winners have become one of the unexpected victims of coronavirus with concerns travel restrictions could prevent them collecting their loot.
The issue emerged when Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Public Expenditure Minister ‘if there are delays with persons being paid their National Lottery winnings in cases in which they have won a prize’ .
The co-leader of the Social Democrats also asked: ‘If so, when will the problem be resolved?’
Responding, Paschal Donohoe conceded there had been a problem because as ‘part of the restrictions introduced to limit the spread of Covid-19, people are urged to stay at home wherever possible’.
Mr Donohoe added: ‘The majority of prize winners have been able to claim prizes at retail agents and claim centres around the country.’
However, the minister conceded that ‘in order to claim a high-tier prize (ie, €15,000 and over) winners have needed to present themselves at National Lottery HQ to make their claim, in order to satisfy the requirements of the Lottery in respect of identity and security’.
This, he conceded, has not been possible on foot of the travel restrictions under the Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act 2020.
However, Mr Donohoe noted the National Lottery Regulator and the Operator of the National Lottery have now addressed this by agreeing to amend the National Lottery licence and the game rules.
This, Mr Donohoe said ‘would allow winners of high-tier prizes to claim their prize in an alternative manner where Covid-19 restrictions prevent them from presenting at National Lottery HQ’.
These amendments, he noted, came into effect on June 2. This was confirmed by the National Lottery who said they had put in place new conditions where the winners of prizes over the value of €15,000 can secure their winnings.
Previously all claims above that value had to typically be claimed at the National Lottery HQ on Abbey Street in Dublin city centre.
However, the Lotto has now moved to meet the concern on travel restrictions by asking the winners of all prizes over €15,000 to arrange an appointment with the Lotto claims team.
All prizes over €15,000 can still be claimed once an appointment is made for a time after the restrictions have been lifted, whenever that is.
Winners up to July 5 will also have an extra three months to claim their prizes with the new cut-off point being set for August 1.
The National Lottery explained that it had ‘extended the period of time that lucky winners can collect prizes on all draws and certain scratch card games in order to encourage people to stay at home and not require them to make any unnecessary journeys during the current public health emergency’.
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