Lotto – it’s online or nothing during lockdown

Lottery players who bought their tickets at retail outlets until this weekend may find that they will have to register online should they want to play Lotto for the duration of the nationwide lockdown.

Winners will also have to wait for the lockdown to end before claiming their prizes

The National Lottery is not classified as an essential service and had to inform their retail partners that they may no longer sell tickets for Lotto or Powerball for the duration of the lockdown.

On Friday it was reported that, while all other in-person forms of gambling, such as in casinos, had been stopped because of the stringent lockdown regulations, the sale of lottery tickets by retail outlets continued.

Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel was asked why the sale of lottery tickets was still permitted, and, during a media briefing on Saturday, he clarified that the lottery was not classified as an essential service and tickets may not be sold during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The National Lottery operator over the weekend informed retailers that they may no longer sell tickets.

At the beginning of April, following the announcement of the lockdown that commenced at midnight on 26 March, Ithuba said it had implemented effective measures in compliance with the government’s interventions to curb the spread of the coronavirus by reducing person-to-person contact, and encouraged the use of remote and digital platforms in conducting all National Lottery operations such as ticket sales, draws and claiming of prizes.

The minister said he told officials in his department to instruct the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) to issue a statement clarifying that the sale of tickets is not permitted during the lockdown.

While there now has been a decline in retail sales, Ithuba said online platforms were doing “phenomenally well,” with 42 000 new players registering to play online before the massive Powerball jackpots were to be won last week.

Since the nationwide lockdown started at the end of March, the National Lottery has seen a spike in users registering to play the lottery online, with the total number of registered online players over 883 000.

Players can access lottery games on the digital platforms of banking channel partners namely Absa, FNB, Standard Bank and Nedbank or on the online app, or on the website.

Should you win you will, however, only be able to claim the prize winnings once lockdown is officially over as the Ithuba offices remain closed during the lockdown period.

All winning tickets have a life-span of 365 days before they expire.

Lotto millionaire winners of R7 Million, R10 Million and R5 Million jackpots will have to wait to claim their winnings until the lockdown has been lifted.

٠ Part of the money generated from the National Lottery does go toward fighting Covid-19:  R50 million is expected to be directed to the Solidarity Fund by the National Lotteries Commission.

Independent research conducted in 2019 for the NLC by Unisa found that that 42% of all lottery players have household incomes of R5 000 or less a month, with 6,5% of those having household incomes of R1 000 or less.

Almost 28% of the people who play the lottery are unemployed, and 29% receive social grants.