The National Lottery in South Africa, known locally as the Ithuba National Lotto, has gone from strength to strength since its initial launch back in March of the year 2000. So much so has the rise, presence and reach of the extremely popular form of gambling been exponential that there are now not one but eight different games that can be played each week. Added to this is the fact that players no longer need to even pop out to the local store to register their numbers for that week, but they can do everything online from either a desktop computer or a smartphone or tablet via the company’s website or through dedicated apps for Apple iOS and Google Android. All of this technological development and improvement to the way people play the lottery has led to a spike in participants – a sharp contrast to other rather old school state run lotteries.
In basic terms a ‘lottery’ is a prize draw based on the purchase of numbered tickets, with the cost of the tickets contributing to the main prize and any smaller ones included. In practical terms, it means that participants buy a ticket and choose a set of numbers (usually around five, six or seven numbers, depending on the competition) and then a draw is held to determine the winning combination of numbers on a weekly basis. Any participant matching the entire set of numbers will win the biggest prize on offer that week, or will share it if there is more than one winner. And as you would expect, this kind of competition is immensely popular around the world, including in South Africa.
Since launching in 2000, the national lottery of South Africa has created dozens of multi millionaires. This has helped cement the lottery in the minds of the general population. And with the advent of online lotteries, that popularity has only increased in line with the technology becoming available to more and more people around the globe. Another phenomenon is the pooling of lottery tickets by groups of people to increase their chances of a win for the group and the prize being shared by each participant. So, let’s dive into some more details…
Lotteries have been around for many centuries in one form or another. In fact, it dates back to the classical age, if not beyond that – sadly, some things are lost to history, when they could have predated the latest estimations. As far as major lotteries go, we can trace one back to the time of Queen Elizabeth I of England and Scotland. The lottery that she put in place was not so much to make someone fabulously rich (although the prize was a substantial 5,000 shillings at the time), but instead to generate a much needed cash injection for the Royal Navy and refurbishing the vital ports needed to maintain the English battle with Spain at the time. However, this wasn’t a prize draw for the general populous, as the price of entry was 10 shillings – far beyond the reach of all except for the already rich. In the end, however, the 5,000 shilling prize didn’t come out as expected but was instead paid in a 3,000 shillings lump sum and the rest made up in esoteric tapestries and luxurious linen – these were coveted items back then.
Since those times hundreds of years ago (that lottery dated back to 1566, in fact), lotteries (or lotto for short) have expanded all around the world to near enough every nation state on the planet. In terms of South Africa, the old state system was nationalised under the company called Uthingo. On the first day of the first lottery in March of 2000, the company aimed to reach an astonishing 80% of households and managed to sell a staggering 800,000 tickets that day. Across the first three weeks of the competition, tickets worth a total of R70 million were sold.
Uthingo was replaced as the company behind South Africa’s national lottery games in mid 2006, when the government accepted a new bid from the Gigani consortium along with the Greek conglomerate called Intralot helping out with the more technical side of things. However, the new partnership didn’t fully take over operations until April 2007, and even then there was court battles that saw Uthingo come back into the picture briefly. Nothing was resolved, however, and after conflict of interest claims in the Pretoria High Court, the lottery was put on the back burner until Gidani was allowed to start things off again from September of that same year.
It was Gidani that introduced instant win scratch cards to the South African market, which became another huge hit in the country. However, after eight years in charge of the national lottery, ownership and operations switched over to the current holders: Ithuba. The lotto licences passed over from Gidani to Ithuba in 2015 with EaziWin being introduced as a replacement for the previous scratch cards that had been launched by the rival company. Ithuba continues to hold the keys to the national lottery in South Africa. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Traditional lotteries require a vast network of outlets and regulators to work in a way that is fair to all participants. A player would be required to go out to an approved outlet, mark their numbers down on a card and pay the entrance fee. They would then tune in to the live broadcast of the result, check if they had won and return to the vendor to pick up any small prizes they had won – if it was any of the bigger prizes, they would contact the organisers directly, of course. And while modern lotteries are absolutely safe to play, the system is open to abuse, just as political elections can be rigged with a concerted effort involving many people.
This is where online participation in national lotteries comes in to save the day. With electron means of registering everybody’s numbers for that week, the system as a whole is much more secure. And while it is a massive boon that people no longer need to venture outside to buy their ticket each time (they can simply do everything online from their own internet connected devices), there’s another massive advantage to playing online – you don’t even have to be in the country in which you are participating to play (so long as you are still a resident, of course). Purchasing and registering your national lottery ticket online is exactly the same as participating via the traditional route – the odds won’t change, the price of the ticket is the same, etc etc – but you get the convenience of doing everything required to enter from the comfort of your own home.
The same things apply to buying and playing instant win scratch cards – this previously required going to a shop that sold them in the real world, but now you can do everything online and you can still see if you have won in an instant. The only thing to be aware of is that you go to the official national lottery site (https://www.nationallottery.co.za/) to make sure that you aren’t being scammed by a third party. What’s more you can play other scratch cards at online casinos, too.
Yes, many of them in fact, some of which we covered just above. But let’s get into some more detail about the specific advantages of playing online against the more traditional method of heading out into the real world to buy a lottery ticket from a local vendor. Some may even be wondering right now if they should change the habit of a lifetime, or if the online method is as safe as it’s claimed to be, but bear with us and we’ll get into the nitty gritty in a moment. Below, we’ve listed the main reasons why you should consider playing the national lottery online:
You can’t lose your national lottery ticket if it is stored online! You must have done this before (perhaps with disastrous consequences if you had some winning numbers come up). You accidentally kept your ticket in your pants pocket when you washed them. Or you spilled your drink all over your ticket. Or your dog went to town on it one day! Thanks to online lotto, however, there’s no chance of accidental damage ruining your chances of winning the big one. All of your details are stored securely by Ithuba and you can even choose to have your ticket emailed over for even more peace of mind.
One day when you absolutely must get your numbers in before the draw takes place, the weather might be absolutely terrible. Maybe there’s a deadly heat wave taking place in the summer or there’s huge storms in the winter. When playing the national lottery online in South Africa you can avoid all of that hassle and stress by registering your numbers on your phone, tablet or computer, without ever leaving the living room. And another advantage of this is that you are not tempted to buy anything impulsively along the way!
Unfortunately, there are many fake retailers trying to sell worthless lottery tickets to unsuspecting buyers out there. It’s too easy to fall victim to fraud and other crimes when buying in the real world. Likewise, if word got out that you had the winning lottery ticket, how safe would you feel about that with people around knowing who you were? When playing online, there’s no chance (so long as you use the official site) that you will be scammed and it is impossible for someone to steal your ticket and claim your prize.
As we mentioned in our introduction, the South African National Lottery (or Ithuba Lotto) now has a total of eight separate games: These are Lotto, Lotto Plus 1, Lotto Plus 2, PowerBall, PowerBall Plus, Sportstake 13, EaziWin and Pick 3. We will explore the ins and outs of each of these below. All of these nationally recognised games are the best and legal South African lotteries and are played by many people all over the country each and every week of the year.
What’s more, the advent of the digital age with people choosing to play the various national lottery games online has boosted numbers significantly, and where there are more players there are bigger prizes to be had by the eventual winners. Another significant factor is the relative low cost of entry (around R5 for the main games), which has meant many can join in the fun. So, let’s take a brief look at each of the competitions or draws that fall under the umbrella of the South African National Lottery:
The most basic and purest form of national lottery for South Africans is the main Lotto. Here, players purchase a ticket that contains six numbers of their choosing from one to 52. The same ticket can be used to register different six number combinations which are labelled A to H, though they must pay for each set of numbers, of course. For those who have a hard time choosing a set of numbers each time, there is a randomly generated choice called Quick Pick.
The main prize, won by the person or persons who managed to correctly predict the outcome of all six numbers, is always into the millions of rands and has odds of more than 20 million to one. As with other lotteries around the world, however, certain other combinations will also win the ticket holder cash prizes, but they will of course be lower in value. These can encompass five numbers and the bonus, five numbers alone, four numbers and the bonus, four numbers alone, and so on and so forth until the minimum winning combination of two numbers and the bonus. The seventh bonus ball drawn each week, therefore, helps to create more winners every time.
At the time of writing, the price of entry was set at R5 per board. And the draw takes place twice weekly, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The draw is always televised on the channel SABC 2.
Lotto Plus 1 runs off the back of the main Lotto draw and uses exactly the same numbers as they are drawn each week. The only difference is that players using the Lotto Plus 1 system have to spend an additional R2.50 per board to have a second chance of winning. The odds are exactly the same as the Lotto competition, but the prizes are often much lower overall.
Same as above, the Lotto Plus 2 is no different from the main Lotto competition, except that it gives participants a third chance of winning a cash prize. Also as above, the cost of entering the Lotto Plus 2 each time is an additional R2.50 for every board. The odds are the same, the prizes are slightly lower and the numbers are the same as those drawn on SABC 2 twice weekly.
Offering a slight variation on the main Lotto, the PowerBall competition has grown in popularity due to it larger prizes. Participants still pick six numbers but they are divided differently. So, first of all, a player must pick five numbers from a set containing the numbers one to 45, then opt for a PowerBall number between one and 20. To win the big prize, players must correctly predict the five main numbers as well as the PowerBall number. As of late 2015, however, the competition was changed to allow those only matching the PowerBall to win a small prize, while the main numbers were increased from one-45 to one-50, making the odds even more daunting.
At the time of writing, the PowerBall competition holds the record win from any of the eight national lottery games. Won in the Free State of South Africa but strangely never claimed by the winner, the prize amounted to a staggering R102,016,595! Because the winner never came forward for their life changing prize money, the biggest recorded win that made it to the winner was another PowerBall win amounting to a total prize of R91,068,427 – not bad at all then!
The price of entry is the same as the main Lotto competition at R5 per board. But the draw takes place on different days – Tuesday and Friday – and is screened on the E.tv channel.
As we discovered with the main Lotto competition (see above), there is a variation on the main PowerBall lottery that gives players a second chance of winning for an additional fee. Players add on another R2.5 to their main PowerBall ticket to enter the Powerball Plus draw. Again, the odds are precisely the same as the PowerBall draw, using exactly the same numbers, but the prizes are not as good. This additional version was introduced in late November 2015.
A pseudo lottery that is more akin to an accumulator bet on several sporting events, Sportstake 13 is again another popular form of gambling in South Africa. Players must correctly predict the outcome of 13 professional football matches from the English Premier League and other international competitions each week. They have three choices for each of the 13 games: a 1 indicates a home win, 2 denotes that the away team will win, while X is put down for a draw. It costs a minimum of R2 per game per board (with a maximum wager set at R2,000 per board), so is cheaper than the main Lotto draw and involves an element of skill in predicting which teams will prevail given their form, opposition and whether they’re home or away that week. The odds of getting all 13 games right still, however, amounts to an eye watering 1,594,323 to one.
As well as selling the main Lotto and other competition boards at various outlets, players can also pick up instant win scratch cards called EasiWin. Prices range from R3 to R5 depending on the prizes offered on each card, and South Africans can buy and scratch them online as well.
Launched in late 2016, the extremely simple daily draw called Pick 3 has a top prize of R10,000. Again, this can be played online by any resident of South Africa. It has proved moderately popular since its launch, but generates nowhere near the excitement of the main Lotto draw.
There are two different games that have fallen by the wayside since the main lottery was launched back in the year 2000. The first of these is the Wina Manje competition, which consisted of many different types of instant win scratch cards sold in various outlets. This has since been replaced for all intents and purposes by the EaziWin scratch cards as detailed above. The second game to be pronounced dead on arrival is the one off raffle that took place at Christmas time back in 2016. There is no direct replacement for the Christmas raffle.
While there are numerous sites that offer you the chance to play the national lottery in South Africa from anywhere in the world, we would strongly recommend that you only play through the main site run by the organisers Ithuba. This site gives you plenty of options for playing the lottery and you can find out the results as soon as they have been broadcast on national TV. You can link your account, once registered, to your phone and use a pin number to access it.
An intriguing option of using the main nationallottery.co.za site is that you can also download dedicated mobile and tablet apps directly or via the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. Because this software has been developed specifically for smaller screens it can offer a much more streamlined experience for users, rather than simply pointing your mobile browser at the main national lottery website. Also, with the advent of Touch ID and Face ID by the companies that manufacture smartphones and tablets, you have an extra layer of security that is personal to you and you alone. This will force a user to login with their fingerprint or the biometric details contained within their face to access their information and to see their current lotto numbers.
Another huge plus of playing online is that you can use a variety of different payment methods for playing each week (more on this below). So, you can use a credit or debit card, an eWallet or a bank account (even a direct debit) to fund your lottery ticket purchases every week. Your winnings can also be transferred back to your chosen payment method with ease too. Just sign up, enter your phone number and pin, then choose which way you want to fund your account.
Extremely. Every single participant has the exact same odds or chances of winning as the next one. The machines that perform the drawing of the numbers have been tested to within an inch of their lives by numerous experts to ensure that they are completely fair and free from any possibility of tampering. Plus, once the draw is taking place in front of the whole nation from a live TV broadcast, there are independent adjudicators that ensure that everything is being done by the book. Only once the independent adjudicator has confirmed that the draw is legit does the result get recorded as the official numbers for that particular draw. There is also a compliance team that oversees the entire process to ensure 100 percent adherence to the rules and guidelines. In short, then, the safety and security of the national lottery is second to none.
Another important part of the security of the national lottery comes from the fact that many of its players have moved to online accounts, which only serves to boost the overall integrity of the whole shebang. Because of the military grade SSL encryption technology employed by browsers, websites and apps, any information that is being transferred will be kept under lock and key and can only be accessed by you the player or by the national lottery on the other end. For peace of mind just ensure that SSL encryption is being used by checking that the site URL contains ‘https’ at the start. If it is missing the ‘s’ and only showing ‘http’, do not use that site – and especially do not ever send details of your payment methods via that particular route.
We’ve listed a huge number of frequently asked questions (FAQs) below in case you have any specific queries that aren’t covered in enough detail above. But, to sum up, we here at CasinoTop South Africa highly recommend that you join the revolution and play the national lottery online from either your desktop, laptop or mobile device. The additional security, convenience and sheer interactivity that you get with digital systems is really amazing. You can do everything from the comfort of your own home, you can get reminders to play sent directly to your phone or email and you can easily claim your winnings directly to your registered account. After that, it’s just a matter of finding a strategy for picking your numbers (or using the Quick Pick option if you really don’t want to jinx it), getting excited at each and every draw throughout the week and dreaming about that day that you can retire early or go on that once in a lifetime vacation to some of the most exotic places in the world. Good luck and fingers crossed!
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