Ithuba, the operator of the South African National Lottery, has continued to run the majority of games as normal amid the coronavirus crisis. The only exceptions have been the Sportstake games, which were put on hold because there are no football matches taking place to bet on.
Tickets had remained available for purchase both online and in-store, after the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) issued a statement back on 3rd April saying that it had ‘activated an exemption clause on lottery play in South Africa’.
Asked about why the sale of lotteries was still permitted at a media conference over the weekend, Patel said: “The rules are absolutely clear … [they] are not an essential product. They are not in the regulations as an essential product and so Lotto tickets are not able to be sold. They should not be sold at the moment.”
The NLC later confirmed that the sale of National Lottery tickets at retail terminals was prohibited during the lockdown. Ithuba has also told stores to stop selling tickets, adding: “We are in full support of the government’s efforts to curb the spread of the virus and we will take all steps necessary to safeguard the wellbeing of our players.”
Retailers have also been told to stop validating tickets, while the National Lottery’s offices have been closed to comply with lockdown measures. It will therefore be impossible for winners to claim prizes until the restrictions are lifted.
Ithuba has previously reminded players that the time limit for claiming prizes is 365 days from when a draw is held, so there is no need to worry about missing out on prizes. Winners should keep hold of their tickets until it is safe to claim prizes.
Sales will continue online as this is a safe way to take part during the lockdown. It is possible to play without leaving home and smaller prizes are paid automatically.
The biggest jackpot currently available in South Africa is in Powerball Plus, which has a top prize of R103 million. A single player won R135 million in Tuesday night’s Powerball draw.