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The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan is feeling lucky.

The $130-billion pension operator is part of a consortium that has been named the preferred bidder to operate Ireland's national lottery based on its offer to pay €405-million ($567-million) to secure the 20-year contract – a price that easily topped offers from two other bidders, and far outstrips industry estimates that €250-million to €300-million would be raised in the privatization.

The bid was submitted by Premier Lotteries, a new company created to make the joint bid by Irish post office operator An Post, the An Post pension fund and British lottery operator Camelot, which is wholly owned by Toronto-based Teachers. The Irish government announced last week that it will hold talks with Premier Lotteries in coming weeks to finalize a bid, hopefully by the end of November.

Media reports said the losing bidders were Italian gaming firm GTech SpA and Australian gambling firm Tatts Group Ltd.

A weekend editorial in The Irish Times said the sale is a good deal for the Irish government at a good price, and "for once the sale of a state asset, the National Lottery, has been completed without either public controversy or political recrimination about selling the family silver." The Irish government has promised at least €200-million from the bid will be used to build a new children's hospital in Dublin, which no politician of any stripe could oppose.

The lottery is just one of several Irish national assets that are up for sale to help the cash-strapped government. It's estimated the country needs to raise €3-billion to assist its recovery from years of financial crisis and pay down public debt.

The question is whether the deal is a good one for the bidding consortium, which appears to have paid full price for the contract. The deal requires the lottery operators to pay out 65 per cent of gross revenue – sales less prize payouts – to identified "Good Causes" supported by the lottery.

While the Irish still buy more lottery tickets per capita than most other countries in Europe, Ireland's economy has been in the doldrums since 2008, and lottery returns have been hurt as a result. Sales were €735-million last year, down from 761 million in 2011 and still far below peak sales of 840 million in 2008.

A highly anticipated growth source, however, is online gambling, which has accounted for only a tiny 2.2 per cent of Ireland's lottery revenue in past years because Irish laws made online gambling cumbersome, requiring registration that could take up to 48 hours to process. Rules were changed recently, however, to make online gambling far easier, which should permit growth in players using mobile devices.

In an interview Monday, Wayne Kozun, Teachers' senior vice-president of public equities, said Teachers was "happy to have won the bid" but he could not comment on growth plans for the Irish lottery.

"It's kind of premature to be looking at that. We have to complete the transaction first," he said.