The Irish lottery regulator has fined national lottery operator Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI) €150,000 (£128,130/$160,880) for self-exclusion breaches.

The National Lottery regulator said PLI breached the terms of its license by allowing previously self-excluded players to open new accounts and buy tickets.

The regulator did not require PLI to offer players a self-exclusion option as part of its license. However, after the operator introduced the option in 2019, it said PLI was responsible for ensuring the system worked properly.

Therefore, the lottery regulator decided to withhold payments of €150,000 to PLI. She sent the money to the state treasury for good causes. The sanction marks the first time the National Lottery regulator has withheld payment to PLI over a licensing breach.

The operator deletes self-excluded accounts

The issue dates back to 2021, when a PLI algorithm deleted 126 accounts of self-excluded customers. Typically, the operator must delete closed accounts after two years to comply with GDPR laws.

However, the regulator said the self-excluded accounts should have been kept aside to prevent the owners from opening new profiles.

The National Lottery regulator has identified 16 self-excluded customers who were able to open a new account. Of these, 10 bought tickets and spent a total of €3,292. Additionally, four of these users received marketing emails from PLI.

“After reviewing the investigation report and the operator’s representations, I concluded that the operator had breached the license,” said the regulator’s head, Carol Boate.

“Having offered a permanent self-exclusion option as a responsible gaming measure, the operator was obliged to take the operational measures to ensure that people wishing to purchase tickets had not previously opted for permanent self-exclusion.”

FDJ takes over PLI from the pension fund

In July, French national lottery operator Française des Jeux Group (FDJ) announced it would acquire PLI in a €350 million deal. FDJ bought the operator from the Ontario Teachers’ Pension, An Post and An Post Pension funds.

PLI holds exclusive rights to the Irish National Lottery until 2034. The operator – which won the contract in 2014 – said the deal would have no impact on the company’s license.