Tuesday 12 December 2017

Government officials worried about optics of housing the regulator in Lotto HQ complex


Liam Sloyan
Liam Sloyan

OFFICIALS worried about the optics of the new Lotto Regulator's office being located in the same Abbey Street complex as the National Lottery's HQ, documents released to the Herald reveal.

The regulator, Liam Sloyan (inset), whose office last week signed off on ticket price hikes and the addition of numbers to the Lotto draw, wrote to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (PER) to allay its concern over the chosen location.

The regulator is renting a unit in the Irish Life Centre on Abbey Street , the same complex as the National Lottery's offices.

Mr Sloyan raised the matter in a letter to PER official Dermot Quigley in a letter last January, saying that the decision to locate the office there saved cash in set-up costs.

He also said the location would help avoid delays in opening the office.

"Initially, you expressed some concerns in relation to the proximity of the offices to those of the operator of the National Lottery and perception issues," Mr Sloyan wrote.

"In this context I have noted that the address of the Operator is Abbey Street rather than the Irish Life Centre and the Operator's entrance is on the street rather than through the centre."

Mr Sloyan said that he had asked the Office of Public Works for alternative accommodation but was advised that taking over the lease in the Irish Life office from the previous tenants, the Health Department, was the best option.

By staying at the address the fit-out costs for the office - put at €250,000 by the Department - could be avoided. The office required "very little expenditure in relation to fit-out, which will save my office a very significant sum and mean that we will be able to take up residence without significant delay... Taking all things into account, I consider it to be the most suitable office space available to me," Mr Sloyan wrote.

A regulator spokeswoman said that just €18k was drawn down from Government funding on the basis that the money would be paid back, adding that more money was saved in set-up costs by using surplus state supplies.

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