Irish Hospital Sweepstakes: If You Are Not In You Can’t Win

Entertainment, Irish Culture
Directed by:
Department of Health
Produced by:
Department of Health


20 sec

This colour advertisement from the 1970s for the Irish Hospital Sweepstakes, is one of many similar films preserved in the IFI Irish Film Archive and contains the iconic tagline ‘If you’re not in, you can’t win’.

The Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake was a lottery that began in 1930 as the Irish Free State Hospitals’ Sweepstake. It was established due to a need for investment in hospitals and medical services at a time when the public finances of the fledgling state were unable to meet this expense. Due to low Irish population figures, the number of tickets sold within the state was insufficient to raise the required funds, due to low population figures, and therefore tickets were also sold to Irish emigrants in the United Kingdom and United States. Each sweepstake ticket was assigned to a horse expected to run in one of several horse races, with enormous prizes on offer. In January 1986 (after nearly sixty years in operation) the final sweepstake draw was held after a series of scandalous revelations about how the company had conducted its affairs. The Irish Hospital Sweepstakes went into voluntary liquidation in March 1987.

With kind permission of The Department of Health.