As the Deputy is aware, I announced on 4th April 2012 that the Government has decided to hold a competition for the next National Lottery licence and that the licence will be for a 20 year period. The ongoing provision of a fixed percentage of annual lottery turnover for good causes will be a condition of the licence. As I announced on 4th April, this percentage is to be retained at 30.5% which was the level that was achieved in 2011. The new licence will also involve an upfront payment to the State, with some of the payment being used to help fund the building of the proposed new National Children's Hospital.
Since April, my Department has carried out a considerable amount of preparatory work for the competition. It will be necessary to revise the National Lottery Act which was enacted in 1986. My Department is currently carrying out the necessary preparatory work on the legislation in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General. I expect to be in a position to submit draft Heads of a Bill for Government approval in the near future.
Given the complexity of the process regarding the competition for the next licence, it will be necessary for my Department to engage external advisers to assist it with the process. My Department expects to publish a Request for Tenders for a consultancy contract shortly. The external advisers will be required, among other things, to provide advice to my Department in relation to the structure of the competition, preparation of the necessary documentation and assistance in the process of evaluating applications/bids for the new licence.
During the past number of months, my officials have engaged with a number of key stakeholders in this process, including potential bidders for the licence and retailer organisations. During a debate on this matter held in the Seanad on 23rd May 2012, I gave an undertaking that it is intended to safeguard retailers' margins under the terms of the next licence.
I look forward to engaging with Deputies and Senators in due course on the various issues involved when we come to debate the proposed legislation to revise the National Lottery Act.