South African Lotto Booms During COVID-19
As the novel coronavirus sweeps the country, South Africa’s national lottery is experiencing a serious business boom. Ithuba, the official managing firm, reports that since the countrywide lockdown began at the end of March 2020, there has been a massive spike in players registering online. The number of people registered to purchase tickets via their desktop or mobile devices now sits at over 883,000.
Interest Grows Along with Jackpots
Some truly massive payouts have already been made this year, including R114 million to a Roodeport player who bought a R5 ticket in February, which may be why so many South Africans are keen to get in on the action whether or not a lockdown is in place. Before the PowerBall jackpot on the 21st of April, which was 2020’s biggest draw to date and came to R218 million (a combination of the PowerBall R123 million and the PowerBall PLUS R95 million) 42,000 new players registered to buy tickets and choose winning numbers on their app.
Staying Home Still Emphasised
Although shelter in place efforts are easing and much of the economy is restarting, authorities and experts have declared that social distancing is still essential. Controlling the spread of COVID-19 remains imperative, and if players can buy their lottery tickets at home rather than doing so at supermarkets, corner stores and other land-based vendors, this is strongly advised. Even before the lockdown, Ithuba had been focusing a lot of resources on attempts to migrate existing customers to digital platforms and to recruit new players in this space.
According to a recent lotto report on Gamblers Africa, four of South Africa’s biggest banks – ABSA, Standard Bank, First National Bank and Nedbank – allow players to buy lottery cards from within their banking profiles. In fact, at least20 jackpot winners since 2017 have made their purchases using the banking profile option. Now, in the face of the novel coronavirus, more people are taking advantage of it and, if they don’t bank with one of these four institutions, they are choosing to register on the national lottery site itself.
An Essential Service in its Own Right
Some might question how essential the lottery is at this time, but with so many people sheltering in place and unable to bet on or watch sports, buying tickets and choosing numbers has been a valuable outlet. The numbers of newly registered players is testament to the entertainment value that the lottery provides, and the National Lottery Commission has allocated R50 million to the South African Solidarity Fund.
The Solidarity Fund was set up with R150 million from the government and is chaired by renowned businesswoman Gloria Serobe. Monies in the Fund are allocated to efforts to track the novel coronavirus, combat its spread, and care for citizens who fall ill. In addition, the Fund, which is also collecting donations from many other businesses around the country, will provide support to individuals whose lives have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The lottery has a long history of supporting charitable endeavours, and it should continue to prove its worth during the pandemic and beyond.
No Problems Claiming Wins
With so many players eager to get their hands on the lottery payouts, some people are wondering how exactly they will do so since Ithuba’s offices remain closed as the lockdown period continues.
All prizes of R50,000 or more must be collected from their premises, but the managers have given assurances that winning tickets are valid for 365 days, or a full year, from the date of the draw. The long expiration time should outstrip lockdown measures, giving lucky claimants the peace of mind that they will have more than enough time to cash in their tickets.