The history of lottery in South Africa
As stated in the description, the South African lotteries are relatively young as compared to most lotteries in the world. There is not a rich recorded history of any of the lotteries in the country’s history until the national lotteries were introduced. There were, however, few previous lotteries that ran for some period of time. There was a lottery that was established in the now non-functional homeland of Ciskei in the year 1984. This was operated by Score-A-Lot. Score-A-Lot became the first lottery to operate the Video Lottery Terminals (VLT) in Africa in the year 1991. Another lottery that was established was in the former homeland of Transkei in the year 1989. This was also operated by Score-A Lot. These became the first cashless operation that made use of smart card technology. After various negotiations with the South African Department of Trade and industry, the organization was closed in December 2001. Similarly, the Natal Lotto (Also was referred to as the KNZ Lotto) was launched in the province of KwaZulu-Natal in 1992. It was in operation for eight years and during this time was successful in raising R869 million out of which R345 million was paid to charities and R448 million was paid as prize money.
The National Lottery is the lottery that continues to operate today. The National Lottery was introduced in South Africa on 11th March in the year 2000. When the lotteries began it was run by an organization can Uthingo. Uthingo Management was formed in the year 1996 to compete for the right to operate lotteries in South Africa. There were three other consortia bidding for this license at the time. Uthingo did not have the responsibility of allocation of funds to any beneficiary organizations. The core duty of the organization was to raise revenue for the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. It was an organization that held 70 percent of the ownership locally. The other 30 percent were invested by foreign players who provided the tools and knowledge to run the lottery system effectively. A carefully strategized marketing plan that aimed to reach 80 percent of the African population at the get-go enabled the sale of a large number of tickets during the first sale of lotteries. At first try, the organization was successful in selling more than 80,000 tickets and within the first three weeks of operation, tickets worth of R70 million were sold (70 million Rand). In 2002, the lottery operator Uthingo suggested that a daily lottery is introduced to supplement the weekly draw. This concept known as Keno was rejected by the trade and industry ministry in March 2003. Soon after in November 2003, the Lotto Plus game was introduced that acted as a supplemental to the weekly lotteries that were available on the purchase of a primary lottery. The entry fee for these purchases was R1.
In July 2006, a consortium known as the Gidani was handed over the responsibility of running the lotteries for seven years. Uthingo lost the license to operate lotteries to Gidani during the bidding. Along with their technical partner Intralot (A Greek Technology Company that is partnered with lottery companies across the word), the consortium began its operations as of April 2007. The operating license was handed over in October 2006. This was put on hold and set aside by the Pretoria High Court when an application by the incumbent Uthingo said that there of a failure to adequately investigate the shareholders in bidding consortia allowed for easy conflicts of interest. This was resolved and after the final draw by the incumbent Uthingo, the lottery was suspended in April 2007. The suspension was removed the same year and the operation of the lotteries was handed back to the Gidani consortium on September 2007. The sale of tickets re-opened in October and more than 200,000 lottery tickets were sold within just the first three hours. Gidani introduced scratch cards as part of the lotteries as well. But this was discontinued for several months when the license to operate lotteries transferred to another organization.
In 2015, the license to operate the lotto was awarded to an organization named ITHUBA. In the same year, two new games were introduced by Ithuba as part of the lotteries that were played as instant win games. Ithuba Holdings Limited is now the official operator of the South African National Lottery. The official website for the national lottery is operated and managed by Ithuba. On this website, players can find the information needed to participate in the lotteries such as the winning numbers, jackpots, lottery games, details on how to play, FAQs and information on how to become an authorized retailer.
The legal Journey of the South African Lotteries
The South African Lotteries is governed by the country’s lottery Act and has two main amendments that have led to the Lotteries Act today. The Acts were:
- Lotteries Act, No, 57 of 1997
- Lotteries Amendment Act, No. 46 of 2001 and
- Lotteries Amendment Act, No. 32 of 2013
The Lotteries Act, No. 57 of 1997 was enacted to regulate and prohibit lotteries and sports pools and to officially establish the National Lotteries Fund. The previous president of South Africa enacted the Lotteries Amendment Act No. 32 of 2013 on 18th December 2013. This is the Act that is in place today.
Gambling and games of chance are managed by the gambling and Lotteries Act of South Africa. The Lotto has people investing in it by purchasing tickets worth millions of rand every week. From the revenue made from the lotteries, close to R15 billion has been distributed to charities since the year 2002. The National Lottery Board overlooks the lottery operations across the nation decides how to make use of this revenue and dispenses money for a range of different causes such as charities, philanthropy and other similar state-run causes such as allocation for money for sports, recreation, culture, arts, and preservation of the national heritage.
The Lotteries Act states, there can only be one licensed operator any one given point in time. As mentioned above, currently this is the Ithuba organization. The organization is regulated completely by the Lotteries Act 1997. The net proceeds from the lotteries are then allocated according to the need of the state/country. For the successful allocation of these proceeds, the law states that there can only be one lottery system in the country.
According to the Lotteries Act, “A lottery is any game, scheme, arrangement, system, plan, competition or device for distributing prizes by chance.” It also defined clearly sports pool and what counts as a promotional competition. “A sports pool is any scheme under which someone competes with other participants to forecast the result of any series or combination of sporting events, and a prize is awarded to the correct or closest forecast” and “A promotional competition is any competition, game, scheme, arrangement, system, plan or device for distributing prizes by chance if it is conducted in the ordinary course of business for the purpose of promoting something (and the prize is more than R1000) whether sill is involved or not.” Discussed below, is a gist of what the lotteries Act says about the lottery system in South Africa.
According to the Lotteries Act, it is a criminal offense to conduct, participate in or derive any benefit from any competition or lottery where any prizes may be offered to the winners of the competitions. This could be competitions that allow players to predict to a future event or could be a game of chance. The law also states that it is a crime to conduct, participate in or derive any benefit from any competition which has not been authorized under the Lotteries Act. It is also thus a crime to conduct, participate or derive benefits from games in which the success of the players does not depend on a substantial degree on skill. Players should note that the following points with regard to promotional competition. The listed out activities with regard to it is a crime – to conduct, to participate in, to promote and to derive benefits from it. It is an offense to devise, conduct, organize, promote, or manage any schemes that may directly or indirectly aid or proved opportunities for betting, wagering, gambling or anything that involved players taking a significant amount risk. Any game to be legally run as a lottery or gambling game must be authorized under the Lotteries Act or any other relevant law in the country that overlooks gambling and competition and games. There is also clear rules and regulations about advertising for the lotteries. It is an offense by law to advertise or offer participation to players for any competition, game or lottery under a false indication. This false indication could be connected with the National Lottery or with a licensed sports pool. And finally, it a criminal offense to try and influence in any way the winning of a prize via coercion, fraud and/or deception, tampering with equipment, systems, software, data tickets or materials.
The above discussed legal information was with regard to the general information that is everyone should know about the lottery systems in South Africa. Listed below are ticket specific information taken from the South African lotteries Act – Any person who does the following, concerning any lottery or promotional competition, is deemed to have committed a criminal offence – any person or organization that 1. Forges any tickets, documents or things, 2. Any person or organization that sells or disposes of any forged ticket, document or thing or 3. Any person or organization that fraudulently changes or alters any number of the figure on any ticket, document or thing. It is a criminal offence to obtain directly or indirectly any financial gain for conducting, promoting or establishing a syndicate for the purchase of a lottery ticket. Finally, below are legalities with regard to the lotteries that sellers should know specifically – It is considered a criminal offense to sell a ticket at a price higher than that printed on the ticket on condition that the seller shares in the prize with any conditions attached, but which are not provided for in the rules of the lottery concerned on credit or with the seller’s financial assistance. And it is an offence to counterfeit, forge or fraudulently make a National Lottery ticket or a sports pool ticket.
Prohibitions and regulations of the South African Lotteries: There is a comprehensive set of regulations in South Africa that governs all of the games of chance. They include GNR.414 and GNR.415 as of 18th April 2000 that deal with the private lotteries and the society lotteries respectively. There are also strict prohibitions laid out in GNR.645 from the 20th July 2010 that deals with the application for and grant for funding from the National Lotteries.
For the buyers to know
Types of South African Lottery games
The South African lotteries consist of these main lotteries –
The Lotto: The Lotto is one of the traditional games that is played in South Africa. The system followed here is similar to most lotto games, the player chooses six numbers for their draw. This can be chosen at random while the ticket is purchased or each of the numbers can be chosen manually. The numbers have to be chosen from 1 to 49. The lottery tickets for these games are usually just bought from authorized retailers and shop owners who can sell lottery tickets. The buyer should remember to write down their name and contact details on the back of the ticket and collect the receipt for the purchase. These will be important during the time of claiming the prize money. The draw for this game happens every Wednesday and Saturday at 9 pm on SABC.
Lotto Plus: The Lotto Plus is very similar to the lotto. The method of playing is also the exact same as the lotto. The only difference is that in this game, there is one additional number to be chosen and one extra jackpot of the player gets the chosen number. The numbers for these games (Lotto plus one and Lotto plus two) are also drawn on SABC on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Powerball Jackpot: The Powerball jackpot has few differences from the lotto games. In this game, the players choose five numbers from1 to 45 and one extra number that is to be chosen from 1 to 20. This extra number is also an additional jackpot. This is why the game is called Powerball jackpot. Players can also choose multiple draws. This allows them to okay the same number in multiple draws. The Powerball (Powerball and Powerball plus) draws happen every Tuesday and Friday at 9 PM.
Sports Stake 13: The Sports Stake is among the recent games that have been launched as part of the SA Lottery. The game combines live sporting results and fixtures together with a lottery format. There are 13 predetermined match fixtures and the players play by predicting the outcomes of these fixtures drawn from South African, English and other professional soccer games. Compared to purchasing other lottery tickets, this game costs more to participate. The price details of all of this can be found on the national lottery website. The “bet slip” is purchased of any one of these three possible outcomes – 1. For the home country to win 2. For the home country to loss (that is, an away win) or 3. For a draw. And the final results are based on the 13 fixtures.
PICK 3: PICK 3 is a daily draw game whereby a player makes a selection of 3 numbers each from 0-9. There are different types of bets that are available as part of the pick 3 game. These are – Straight, 3 Way Mix, 6 Way Mix, Front Pair, Split Pair and Back Pair.
Eaziwin: Eaziwin is an electronic game. This is an instant play and instant win game. With the help of advanced and well-managed technology, this game replaced the daily and weekly scratch cards. Players enjoy this game because there is no wait in the process of a draw. Players immediately find out if they have won or lost. This game is structured around a combination of locally designed lottery games within South Africa and internally acclaimed lottery games. At the moment, these games run daily and this also increased the chances of winning for a frequent player.
Tracking the results and lottery draws
The South African Nation lottery results can be accessed from multiple places. It can be found live on television channels, websites, Mobiles and also in print via newspapers. The best mode among these is the national lottery website where if the players have a registered account, then they can get quick updates on the results of the draw. Other schedules and draw days and dates can also be found on the national lottery website.
Age limit and eligibility for purchasing lottery tickets
Buyers of the lotteries must be 18 years or older. If they meet these criteria, they can purchase lottery tickets from any of the approved retailers and banks in person. Similarly, it is also not allowed for another person to purchase a lottery ticket for or on the behalf of a minor. This ticket has been deemed invalid. Other individuals who are not allowed to purchase and participate in the lotteries include – 1. The directors of Ithuba and 2. Members of the National Lotteries Commission. These tickets shall also be deemed invalid and prizes cannot be claimed on these. If an individual who falls into any of the above categories wins any of the lotteries and the prize money has already been handed over to such a person, then this prize will have to be repaid by the winner to Ithuba immediately. It should also be noted that Ithuba or any the organization’s authorized retailers have the right to reject the sale of tickets to someone without stating a reason to the player if they believe that the player’s manner of playing is interfering with other players’ access to the game. And finally, it should be noted that one must have an FNB or a registered Nedbank account that must, in turn, be registered on the South African Lottery websites. Only residents of South Africa who have valid South African identification can purchase these lottery tickets. There is no specific rule listed either in the lottery laws or the regulations set by the Ithuba organization with regard to foreigners, immigrants or non-residential citizens participating in the lotteries. However, the prize money is only transferred to those with a South African bank account. This makes it difficult for anyone from outside the country to participate and claim the lotteries wins.
Purchasing lottery tickets
Lottery tickets can be bought both online and on-site with an authorized retailer in South Africa. While purchase on-site, the buyers can purchase the tickets by paying directly in cash. Most lotto tickets cost R1. This may change based on the games played. Bet splits for Sports stake can cost up to R1000. The buyer can also purchase the lottery ticket and the bet slip with their debit and credit cards. These cards are only valid for lottery purchase if they are of a South African registered bank. When purchasing lottery tickets online, both credit and debit cards are allowed as long as the player has a registered account with the national lottery website. However, it should be noted that for the safety of the player it is advised that they do not use credit cards for purchase. It not only puts the players at financial risk but their families as well.
Cancellation of lottery tickets
A lottery ticket that has been bought can be canceled if there has been an error during the time of its issues or if the ticket/receipt is illegible, incomplete or contains two or more quick pick selections each containing the same six numbers. If a ticket is facing any of these issues, the ticket can be canceled if it is returned to the issuing terminal (or canceled on the website) within two hours from the time of the purchase. Once the ticket is canceled, the player will receive a refund and by using this he/she may choose to purchase a new ticket. There will be specific instructions shared with the retailer who will, in turn, retain the original canceled ticket so that it can be returned to Ithuba. If the retailer for any reason does not return the original copy of the canceled ticket as part of the week’s remittance package, the retailer will be charged for this transaction and the amount that has been received from this transaction gets added back into the lottery reserve pool. It is the responsibility of the players to ensure that they collect the prize money before their tickets expire. Players should specifically note that they are not allowed to cancel or request for cancel of quick pick tickets for the sole reason that the random numbers chosen in their tickets are not to their liking. Retailers are also provided with strict instructions of not to exchange or cancel any lottery tickets until and unless they meet the requirements that have been stated above.
For Winners to know
The expiry date for claiming the prize money: Every lottery ticket has expiry dates. These dates may be printed on the back of the lottery ticket. If it is not mentioned, then players should visit the official website for the South African National Lottery – www.nationallottery.co.za. For Lotto, Lotto Plus 1, Lotto Plus 2, Powerball and Powerball plus players have up to 365 days from the day of the draw of the winning numbers to claim their prize. If there has been no claim on the prize, after the expiry period 50% of the unclaimed prize money will be deposited into the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) for distribution for good causes and charities.
Claiming the prize money
Claiming anonymously: The lottery organization Ithuba has stated that it will not share any of the details of the winners and thus, winners can claim their prize anonymously should they choose to. If the winner has provided the organization with a written agreement and consent, Ithuba may use the winner’s name and photograph in any of its public communications with regard to the lottery and jackpot win.
The claiming process: The winners of lottery prizes amount to or more than R 50,001 will have to submit a completed prize claim form that is approved by the National Lotteries Commission. Cash prizes of R 50 and below can be claimed from the authorized retailer. If the sum is more than that, the retailers can choose to pay up to R 2000 in cash. Prize money that ranges between R 2001 and R 50,000 can be claimed at an authorized prize payment center. The address for these can be found on the official website or via the customer care helpline. And for prizes above R 50,000, will be paid in a check directly to the winner or an authorized representative at the National Lottery Office. In all of these cases, a valid state identity and a completed claim form must be submitted. The winner who has won more than R 50,000 also have the options of reaching out to Ithuba’s helpline number and receive advice on the best method to claim the prize money for them. If the winner does not want to do this, they can also ask for this advice to their authorized retailer. While submitting, the claim form must be filled with the name of the owner of the lottery ticket and must be accompanied with the valid ticket. The name that has been filled must match the name on the state identity card exactly. ITHUBA retains the right to refuse processing any payment if the relevant prize claim form is incomplete or invalid. If the winner is not able to complete the prize claim form due to legal, physical, or other disability, an authorized representative of the winner will have the right to complete and sign the prize claim form on their behalf. In this scenario, the prize claim form should clearly state the name of the person who is claiming on behalf of the winner and describe the status of the signatory and explain why the winner could not claim the prize in person. Ithuba has the right to request the evidence of the capacity of the person claiming the prize money on behalf of the winner. Once the prize money has been paid to the claiming authority, the lottery company will not be able to help the winners in case of any disputes that may arise in the future. The regulations of the company clearly states “Payment of the Prize to the person shown on the Prize Claim Form as the Claimant or his/her duly authorized representative shall fully and effectively discharge ITHUBA, its officers, directors, employees, representatives, contractors, Operator and any person, firm or Operator authorized by ITHUBA to pay Draw Prizes, from any further liability for payment of that Prize.” Therefore, the company assumes that the person with all the correct information in the prize claim is the winner or the representative and will not be indemnified either of the parties of any damages or losses that may occur post payment.
The lottery tickets/receipt is the only ‘valid instrument’ that can be used as proof for participation in the lotteries. Thus, it is the only instrument that can be considered valid at the time of claiming the prize money. Ithuba has set a validation process that has been approved by the National Lotteries Commission. The lottery receipts will have to go through this validation process before authorizing and transferring payment. The company in its policies states that the decision as to whether a winning lottery ticket or receipt is valid or not lies with the organization and its decision shall be ‘final and binding’. The company shall not authorize payment to winners in the following cases –
- If the ticket is a counterfeit and has been forged completely or partially or fails Ithuba’s highly confidential validation and security tests.
- The control number of the winning receipt that has been produced during the claim does not show up on the company’s official list of control numbers of winning lottery tickets.
- The control number produced during claim is a winning number from any of the previous draws.
- The ticket or receipt does not show up on the company’s list of lottery tickets that have been issued for the specific draw. This information is maintained by Ithuba on the central computer system.
- The produced ticket has been mutilated, altered, not readable, and incomplete or tampered with in any manner.
- The lottery ticket has not been issued from an authorized retailer or bought from the authorized website.
Tax implication after winning a lottery: The lotteries in South Africa are not taxed. Winners will not have to pay any tax on their prize-winning to the government. There may be an exception to this rule and players should check all of the details at the National Lotteries website. It is said for sure that winners of the South African Lotto, South African Powerball or the popular South African lottery game PICK 3 will not face any deductions from their lump sum. This also applies if the prize won is a non-cash prize (for example, a car).
Impact of Lottery
A report published in June 2003 stated that nearly 27 percent of the lottery players in South Africa were unemployed and among them, 43 percent of the players earned less than R2000 per month. Although this was an issue that needed attention, legalizing gambling also had created 50,673 jobs in the year 2000. And this was not just in the gambling industry. The report stated that an average South African plater spent R81 per month on lotteries. Under the control of the current operator, Ithuba, 34 percent of the revenue from the lotteries is paid to a central charitable distribution. This was 28% in the previous years. And six percent of the revenue earned is paid as part of the retail commission, ten percent is retained and used for operational costs and the balance 50 percent paid off as prize monies for the winners.
Despite being a relatively young lottery system, the South African lotteries has seen success and produced many happy jackpot winners. The lotteries that were functioning before the launch of the official national lottery never took off in South Africa. It is only after the launch of the National lotteries under the Lotteries Act did the lotteries gain popularity and saw its current success. This was made possible by careful strategizing and marketing from the members of the three companies that over time have governed the lotteries in South Africa. And that is the impact and all that is to know about the South African lotteries.
How to buy a lottery ticket online in South Africa?
Purchasing a lottery ticket online from South Africa is no different than anywhere else in the world. It is user friendly – as it is done from the comfort of home using any connected device – and also a potential gateway for some serious jackpots. The world lotteries offer substantial jackpots and very attractive prize tables.
First You’ll need to open an account
As expected, a purchase of a first ticket requires a valid account with a lottery agent. We suggest you view our top picks table at the top of this page for the lotto brands we consider most suitable for South Africans. If you’d like to know more, read a few reviews to better pick the agent that’s “right” for you. It’s ok to open a few accounts with several agents, but for a positive first step, make sure you pick a top ranking brads. For opening an account with the brand you choose, in the top list table click on the button in the row of the brand. You’ll be redirected to the homepage where you can complete the registration process. You’ll be asked for the basic identification details – name, email, etc. – these are mandatory as there are age limitations for meeting regulations.
Than pick the lottery draw that best suites your need
As mentioned, the biggest attraction in buying lottery, and other games, online, is the huge variety of lotteries that become available. There are many to choose from – most pick those who currently have the highest jackpot or the best odds for winning any prize – and you’re welcome to read through some reviews Powerball, Euro Millions, Euro Jackpot, and for more, see our review archive.
Last you’ll complete a first purchase of a lucky ticket
Once you completed setting an account – other than registering, you might have to validate the new account – and picked your lucky numbers of your favorite lottery, you’ll need to complete a first slip or ticket purchase. See the top list table or read some reviews where we cover the exclusive offers from the agents to know what to expect upon clearing payment. Agents accept a number of payment methods – bank transfer, credit card, and e-wallets – and this part shouldn’t be a problem.
Congratulations, if you followed the steps and made it this far, you’ve likely became the owner of a ticket granting you the option of competing for a life altering jackpot.
If you’d like to jump in and play with my top pick – try
You’re welcome to have a look at my top 10 lottery websites specifically for South Africa players here.