Introduction to Lottery in Australia
The island continent of Australia is diverse in many ways – indigenous history, culture, wildlife, weather and architecture. Two man-made marvels – The Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge – were funded, partially, with lotteries. First Harbor Bridge lottery held on February 5th, 1932, and the first Sydney Opera House Lottery held on January 10th, 1958. The lottery is part of Australians lives since early times.
All lotteries in Australia are state-owned. This means there can be differences in gameplay and rules, due to differences in regulations. I’ll list these below. Companies – Tatts being the biggest – operate the game, but the legal authority over the lotteries is the state/territory the lottery is held on.
Anyone meeting the age threshold, local resident or visiting foreigner, can participate in an Australian lottery draw. Similarly, players from anywhere in the world can play the Australian lotteries remotely. All of the games have been made available online.
You bought a ticket and won the lottery, congratulations! Each state in Australia has different prize claiming process. This may change by game and company. There’s a process for claiming online, claiming in person, claiming on behalf of another, claiming on behalf of a group winner, claiming by post and claiming the prize anonymously. There are also tax implications on the prize money.
The History of Lottery in Australia
The first legal lotteries in Australia can be traced all the way back to the 1800s. This was when each of the states – New South Wales (NSW), Queensland (QLD), South Australia (SA), Tasmania (TAS), Victoria (VIC), and Western Australia (WA) – began introducing their own lottery laws. Before this, the lotteries in Australia were the illegal sweepstakes that would jump from one state to the next. Because of the prohibition of lotteries, the games moved from New South Wales to Queensland, Victoria, and Tasmania. But soon, the state governments realized that the interest in lotteries held great potential in raising revenue of the state.
Australia faced first of its economic crises in Tasmania when the Bank of Van Diemen’s Land collapsed in the 1890s. To help the state through this crises, the first government-approved lottery was step up known as the Grand Lottery. This Lottery offered winning prizes both in cash and in kind. This was also the time the laws with regard to the lotteries were debated at court because the winner of the lottery sued his friend in a dispute over who bought the ticket. Soon after the Golden Lottery, The Golden Casket Lottery, Tatts Lotto and the NSW lottery, three of the main Australian lotto organizations were set up. Each of these lotteries has their own journey and history.
The Golden Casket Lottery
The Golden Casket Lottery began its journey in Queensland in 1916 and is now one of the largest lottery organizations in the world. The Government of Queensland took over the ownership of this lottery in 1920. It was so popular at the time that it’s increased the state’s budget by 2% in just its first year. The first Golden Casket Lottery was drawn after a suggestion from the Committee of Queensland Patriotic Fund who wanted to raise funds for war veterans. The jackpot prize for this lottery was set at 5000 pounds. This was given in gold because cash prizes were banned during this time. This was gold displayed in a “casket” – this is why the lottery was termed “The Golden Casket”.
Within the first few years of the lottery, the golden casket was able to raise incredible amounts of money for various charity groups and causes. Some of these include – The Australian Soldiers Repatriation Fund, building Anzac cottages for war widows and their families, The Motherhood, Child Welfare and Hospital Fund, The Royal Women’s Hospital in Brisbane, Red Cross, and Queensland University. The economy and public health system boomed in Queensland because of the lottery. As of 2007, the Golden Casket Lottery became a subsidiary of the Tatts Group. Over $40 million dollars are given away as prizes each year.
The NSW Lottery
The New South Wales (NSW) Lotteries began its operations in 1930. It was set up to help deal with the great depression and the hospital and health system crises that came with it. It was a period of high unemployment rates, poor economy, and scarce money. Because the lotteries were announced during this highly sensitive time, it initially received a lot of backlash and criticism. It also received condemnation from church groups that tagged the lottery to be evil and demoralizing. After the proclamation of the Lotteries Act in the year 1931, the lottery grasped the interest of a number of buyers. The lotto jackpot was set at 5000 pounds. As the lottery grew bigger each year, so did the prizes and so did the commission. In November 1957, the lottery was able to fund the construction of the Sydney Opera House. NSW lotteries also went on to host televised draws in 1979.
Over time, the drawing of NSW lotteries moved from manual to technology based. It was replaced by the Random Number Generator that was designed in Australia. NSW also announced its instant lotteries during this time for which prize money went up to $10,000.
The popular Oz Lotto, Lotto Strike, Powerball, Saturday Lotto are all national lottery draw games that are run by the NSW lottery company. The first of these was the Oz lotto that was announced in 1994. NSW Lotteries also became a subsidiary of the Tatts group in 2010. The Tatts group is one of the biggest lottery organization not only in Australia but also the world, giving out millions of dollars in prize money for the winners and earning great commission for the states.
The Tatts Group
The Tatts Group has one of the oldest origins dating back to 1881. Its journey began when a young boy of 16 years, George Adams traveled from England to Australia seeking opportunities for growth and livelihood. He tried out different kinds of jobs; namely, he was a bus driver, baker, gold miner, saddler, and stockbroker. He began working as a publican in Sydney where he began taking bets on horse races. This paved way for the conception and development of the company Tattersall’s. This organization set the foundation for the lotteries and gambling world in Australia that exists today. As discussed, the economic crises in Tasmania in 1895, along with the collapse of the Bank of Van Diemen’s Land led the state government sanctioning help from Adams. This resulted in the formation of Tattersall’s Grand Lottery. A number of the Bank’s properties were given away as prices and the lottery seen as a great success. This then spread to the other states, making the first multi-state lottery in Australia.
As of today, Tatts Group holds the highest position and leads all facets of the lotteries in the nation. It governs, oversees and distributes lottery tickets in all states and territories in Australia. The company has been listed in the Australian stock market since 2005 and owns or leases Tatts Lotteries, NSW Lotteries, Golden Casket and SA Lotteries. Tatts is also a big part of the betting and wagering game in the country. In its latest report, Tatts Group has reported a 14.8% boost in profits in the first quarter of the 2017-18 financial year and its revenue has been reported to have grown to $743.1 million. During the second quarter of 2017, Tatts launched its new website increasing the lottery sales in the nation.
The legal Journey of the Australian Lotteries
Lottery games in Australia are played both online and on-site. The lottery laws in Australia differ from one state to another. The states have complete control of the lottery regulations in their individual jurisdictions. The national government helps oversee the general laws with regard to the types of lotteries operated in each of the states. Other than this, every other decision about the lotteries not limiting to licensing policies, distribution regulation, and sale plans are controlled by the states.
Some of the licensed lottery operators in the country are – Tatts Group Limited (This is very first lottery organization in the country and thus has been discussed in detail as part of the history of lotteries), Jumbo Interactive (Popularly known as Oz lotteries) and LotteryWest. Although Tatts group manages the lotteries in Queensland’s Golden Casket, the New South Wales lotteries in South Wales and ACT in South Australia, the technical legal ownership of all of these lotteries remains with each of the states. Public and Private companies that is looking to run and conduct its own lotteries, raffles and other lottery and/or gambling games with a aim to raise money for a not for profit organization or increase awareness to a sensitive and attention needed cause, it can refer to the rules and regulations set by the Gaming Commission in each of the states. This is the commission that oversees lottery laws in each state. The act on responsible gambling code of practice is detailed and each of the territories in Australia has issued one. All buyers and sellers should read this document and ensure that they adhere to the policies in the Act. This information can be found in any online website and also can be found via a google search.
Specific legalities for online Australian lotteries (note to both sellers and buyers)
Lottery organizations must be licensed if they want to distribute and sell lottery tickets online. Popular organizations like the Oz Lotteries and the Tatts Group are government licensed distribution companies and thus have been given permission by the state to sell lottery tickets online. If the buyer comes across any lottery company, they should ensure that it has the required permit and is licensed to sell lottery tickets online. Companies that wish to engage in marketing and advertising lottery games online also need specific permits for this that the must obtain from the relevant state’s gaming commission. Other than lotteries, internet gaming companies for online betting on sports are also permitted to offer lottery games on their website provided they are licensed with the Australian borders and they have received approval from the government.
The Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 (IGA, 2001) states that “locally-owner and foreign real money internet gaming operators are not allowed to advertise or market to Australian residents any ‘interactive’ games’. Activities that are deemed to be interactive include – 1. Online casino games, 2. Instant scratch games and 3. Online poker games. ” But games such as online bingo, online keno, and other lotto games have been permitted to be accepted within the realm of gambling. Casino websites from other countries that are licensed and have a permit to sell in foreign jurisdiction continue to see casino and poker games online to Australian residents as long as they meet the required age limit. It has been noted that the government has not necessarily taken any serious action or steps to stop the operation of these companies.
As mentioned above, applying for permits is the first thing that any company that wished to operate lotteries online must do. Permits help regulate online competitions and help ensure that all the activities are fair and legitimate. This is particularly the case if a large prize money is offered. The states and territories have separate rules and regulations. And lotteries are always tied to raising revenue for the state and to help raise funds for a good cause. Thus, it is of utmost importance that businesses run ethically. It is also important, for the same reason, that businesses that do not keep to the law face consequences. Permits are issued based on whether the games need a separate permit to be run legally. This is usually decided based on if the games offered are games of chance (winners are drawn at random) or games of skill (winning requires the player to have some level of skill). Irrespective of that, companies should seek the help of an experienced attorney to help navigate this. Listed below are some things that companies must keep in mind while applying for permits for online lotteries –
- All terms and conditions and all details with regard to the conditions for entry for every game that the company plans to run must be detailed out.
- Permit fees vary across states, promotion mechanics and the total prize pools in the state.
- Strict vetting process must be set to ensure that all players meet required eligibility to play the games of their choosing. Announcing a winner before checking eligibility and later withdrawing from the announcement would lead to cost far more legal consequences for the company than the player.
Lottery ticket buyers to know
The lotteries although fun can be a dangerous game to invest in. It is financially sensitive and has grave consequences if the buyer makes a mistake. It could put families in financial risk. Therefore, it would make sense that the buyers spend a little bit of their time researching on the lotteries in their state and country. Below are few of the things buyers should know about the Australian lotteries.
The age limit: The legal age limit to be able to purchase lottery tickets in Australia is 18. This applies to all states other than Western Australia. Here, the age limit to purchase lottery tickets has been lowered to 16.
Online and On-site Lottery Sales
When the lottery was introduced in Australia, at first all the tickets would have to be bought from vendors only. And this purchase would be done face to face. With advancement in technology, like almost every other country participating in lotteries, online sales of lotteries have been introduced. Players can choose to play the different games, pick their lucky numbers and purchase lotto tickets online. Players can play directly on the websites of the lottery companies or avail services of or participate in games conducted by agents who allow players to bet in the outcome of a game rather than participate in the draw itself and still being eligible for the jackpots. As mention in the above discussions, each state has its own rules and regulation when it comes to gambling and lotteries. The buyer is advised to check with the laws of their state or consult an attorney before choosing to invest in lottery tickets. It should also be noted that in Australia, the sale of the lottery tickets is not bound by citizenship, immigration status or residential status. Anyone from anywhere in the world can participate and stand a chance to win.
Types of lotteries available in Australia
A full system
This system allows players to play more numbers than that are drawn in a lottery game. This gives the buyer a higher probability of winning the game and getting that jackpot. One such game that has this system is the Super 9 which allows players to choose nine numbers on the Oz lotto when only seven balls are drawn. By playing this way, buyers can increase their chances of winning because they would be playing with every permutation and combination of the numbers within the seven drawn balls. The buyer can also look at increased chances of winning the division prize for Oz Lotto by selecting fewer numbers on a system entry. Even if all the numbers do not match, matching just some of the winning numbers could land the player at second, third or any the other lower prizes. Although the chances of winning a share in the millions are increased, this has one problem, – the prize of the ticket is increased to be very high and if no numbers match, the buyers might be looking at a loss since they have played a number of different entries.
A reduced system
This system, for the most part, functions like the full system. The difference is that it leaves out many of the repeated strings of numbers. And therefore, the prize monies and rewards are lower. While in the full system, many combinations were being played, here many of the combinations are being left out. The plus point about this system is that the ticket prices are reduced to be extremely low and the return is not bad even if all the numbers don’t match. The players get what they have invested for.
This is a very common system of playing that people may have come across in the lotteries of other countries as well. Syndicate essentially refers to a group of family, friends or colleagues who get together and purchase a large number of tickets at the same time for a lottery game. The money won is shared among the winners. This system also improves the chances of winning quite a bit with the only negative being, the winner will have to share the prize money.
There is also a whole range of lottery games for the buyers to consider that are offered by lottery giants in Australia. Tatts Group is the largest of the operators in the nation and has also taken over many state-owned games. Some of the games offered by this group are – the Saturday Lotto, Monday & Wednesday Lotto, Oz Lotto, Powerball and Super 66. All of these games are available nation-wide except Super 66, which is not available in New South Wales. Some of the popular games that are available in the country including:
- The Soccer Pools: This a lottery that is based on the results of the national and Northern Hemisphere matches. It is a nationally played game administered by the South Australian lotteries.
- Lotto Strike: This is a game that is played in New South Wales and Tasmania. It is played as a substitute
ofSuper 66 which is available in all the other states in the country. This is administered by the New Wales Lotteries.
- Cash3: This is a lottery game that is played only in Western Australia. It is administered by the LotteryWest Company.
- Lucky lotteries: This is a type of raffle that is run by the Tatts Group. It is available in all of Tattersall’s jurisdictions. Two of these lotteries are – the Super Jackpot and the Mega jackpot draws.
- Set for Life: This game was introduced in the year 2015 by the Tatts Group. It known for its unique game structure. Similar to Lucky Lotteries, it runs in all of the Tattersall’s jurisdictions.
Payment for the lottery tickets
Lottery tickets that are bought on-site can be bought using cash, Visa, and MasterCard. Buyers who are purchasing tickets online can also pay via Visa or MasterCard. Paying through the e-wallet and mobile application PayPal is also made available on almost all the websites.
Lottery winners to know
Once the ticket is bought, there are a few things that the buyers should keep in mind. Before that, there are three common rules that every buyer should follow irrespective of the country or the state they are playing lotteries from or lotteries in. These rules are simple and straightforward –
- Always sign the ticket as soon as it has been bought
- Do not allow someone else to purchase the ticket for you
- Make sure the seller is an authorized retailer
- Keep the ticket safe in a safe place. Only the actual ticket can be displayed to claim the prize money
- Check for expiry dates of the ticket
Expiration dates for lottery tickets
The winner should note that all lottery tickets come with expiration dates. Prizes that are not claimed within the stipulated period goes back into the lottery pool. If the buyer has played online and won, they will be directly notified after the draw to collect their winning. If bought directly from a retailer, then the retailer will be able to check with the officials and share with the winner the details of the expiration date of their prize. But unlike other countries which have expiry period set at 180 days give or take, Australia offers the longest time period for the winners to be able to come to claim the money. The time varies state to state and is not fixed. In New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, the winner has up to six years to claim their winning from the state lottery provider. Post that, the money goes to the state government. In Queensland, the time offered is even more. Winners have up to seven years to claim the money before it goes back to the state government. The luckiest are in Victoria. There no have any expiration dates set on their lottery claims. After 6 months, the money is transferred to the state revenue office and in South Australia, money is transferred to the state after 12 months. In both these cases, the winner can still claim their prize money at any time. They may be asked to file an ex gratia claim to retrieve the money. In Western Australia however, any prize unclaimed for 12 months will be fortified and transferred back to the state.
Claiming the prize money
Winners can claim the prize money either online or on-site. This is determined based on the prize amount and where the ticket was purchased. The authorized companies will have guidelines on what the claiming process is depending on the state, game, and the lottery company. For winners who have purchases tickets online, the prize money will be directly transferred to the winner’s account that was created while purchasing the tickets. This is usually done within 24 hours. The winner will also be notified by e-mail. If it is a jackpot prize, it usually takes around two weeks to transfer the amount into the online lottery account. For those who have purchased their tickets on-site, prizes less than $1500 will be paid directly at any retail outlet. For prizes that are $1500 and above, the winners will have to fill out a prize claim form and for jackpot prizes, prizes can be transferred to the winner’s account after two weeks (this is the most common time period. Nevertheless, winners should confirm their provincial period according to their ticket).
If the winner is claiming the prize in person, in order to collect the prize these will be needed – 1. The original lottery ticket, 2. Signature identification such as Driver’s License or Passport and 3. For registered lottery entries, the Tatts Card to which the ticket is registered. If an individual is collecting the prize on the behalf of the winner, then the winner will have to send with the relevant person, a signed letter of authorization along with the ticket. The person claiming the money on the winner’s behalf should also have the correct ticket number, registered card holder’s contact number and details of the prize amount being collected. The person authorized to pick up the claim money should also bring their identification for any required verification. The prize money will be paid via check or direct deposit as requested in the claim form.
If the individual is part of a group or syndicate and is claiming the prize money on behalf of other members of the syndicate, then also the person will have to display the letters of authorization sent on the behalf of the registered players. The prize money can also be claimed via post. In this case, the winner has to send to the relevant office address (found on the website) the winning tickets and a completed Prize Claim form. The winner should remember to keep copies of both the tickets and the prize claim form with them. It may take around 10 days to process the prize money.
Anonymous claiming: All the states in Australia allow winners to claim their prize anonymously. They not only allow it, it is actually encouraged. A public announcement will be made only if the winner requests it. Unless and until that happens all prize winners stay anonymous. This decision can be shared with the authorities while claiming the prize.
Tax Implication: This is another part of the lotteries where the Australian residents are very lucky. The prizes won in the lotteries whether in cash or in kind (for example a car), is not subject to any kind of tax. However, it should be noted that this applies only to Australian residents. Players from another country may be bound by the lottery and tax laws in their countries.
Thus, the online lotteries in Australia are as diverse and unique as the country itself. Though, a relatively short journey as compared to the lotteries of other countries, it is an interesting one. And that is all that you need to know about the online lottery systems in Australia.