People in Ireland spent on average over €17.5 million on National Lottery games every week last year.

At just below €919 million, lottery game sales were up by almost 4% on 2019, according to the latest annual report from Premier Lotteries Ireland.

The operator of the National Lottery said it gave out a record €528.9 million in prizes in the year, which was up over 6% from 2019.

There were 33 prizes in excess of €1 million in 2020.

The group recorded an operating profit of €14.6 million in the year, up from €8.9 million in 2019.

Almost €50 million was paid in commission to retailers, the report says.

A further €253.6 million was raised for community projects and other causes bringing to over €1.35 billion the total amount that has been raised for such causes since late 2014 when PLI took over the running of the National Lottery on a 20-year license.

PLI is an incorporated company whose shareholders include An Post, An Post Pension Funds, and the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (OTPP).

"None of this would have been possible without our staff and the vital support of our 5,415 retailers," Andrew Algeo, Chief Executive of PLI, said.

"Particularly in 2020, when our local shopkeepers and retail staff kept their doors open to support their local communities and became frontline workers in a once in a lifetime health emergency."

Mr Algeo said €16 million of historic, expired unclaimed prize money was transferred to the Exchequer in 2020.

"The Government announced that the money would be allocated to the health service to support the response to Covid-19. We, at PLI, were delighted to see the money used in this way," he said.