Sales at the National Lottery fell in 2011, a decrease of 1.4% compared to 2010.

The company's sales were $761.4m, in what it describes as a "very challenging retail environment" with a drop of 5% in footfall.

Scratchcard sales rose as did revenuees from online gaming but Lotto sales were down by 40 million euro to 282 million.

34.3 million winners of National Lottery's games shared a total prize fund of €422.5m, an increase from €419.9m in 2010.

The amount of money paid out to charities and community groups by the National Lottery Company, which is administered by An Post, hit a five year low of €232m.

The falling sales come as the government is preparing the terms of a 20 year licence to run the lottery business which will be put out to public tender later this year.

There were 34.3 million winners in 2011, sharing a total prize fund of €422.5 million, up from €419.9 million in 2010.

This represented an average prize pay-out of 55.5%. The National Lottery paid out over €1 million in winnings every day of 2011 and over 800 players won prizes of €10,000 or more.