Ticket sales for National Lottery games increased to a total of €918.9m in 2020, up from €884.5m in 2019.

The Office of the Regulator of the National Lottery (ORNL)'s annual report for last year said the increase was seen in the online sales channel, which grew to represent 14.8% of total sales for the year, up from 9.1% the previous year.

The report said that new measures introduced during the year as a result of Covid-19 ensured that National Lottery games continued in a safe and secure manner for retail and online players, and that returns to good causes were maintained as a result.

The report shows that €270m was transferred to the Exchequer in 2020 for the benefit of good causes.

This included €16.1m of funds from expired prizes dating back to previous licences.

Covid restrictions triggered an increase in online sales in addition to organic growth in the online channel, according today's report.

The Regulator said she moved to ensure that the National Lottery increased its monitoring of players online, both in terms of frequency and the degree of scrutiny applied, to properly identify and engage with those at-risk of excessive play during this time.

This new regime, as well as the strict enforcement of absolute spending limits designed to prevent lottery games being played in an uncontrolled manner, will continue, she added.

Carol Boate, the Regulator of the National Lottery, said that as was the case for so many organisations in 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic created a unique set of challenges and circumstances for her Office to navigate in the interests of players, good causes and the operation of the National Lottery.

"I am confident that the measures taken ensured the continuity of lottery games in the new environment, in a manner that put the interests of players first, so that Good Causes continued to benefit from this important State asset," she said

"My keen focus on protections and safeguards continues in the interest of both players and the propriety of the National Lottery," she added.