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South African lotto turns 14

Posted by Mark Daniel

JackpotEstablished in 2000, the South African National Lottery has just turned 14 years old. Considered South Africa’s most popular form of gambling, the lotto has made several people millionaires in the last 14 years and continues to offer massive jackpots to players across the country. Its easy accessibility to everyone, especially those in rural areas, has made it exceptionally rewarding, and every week two Lotto and Powerball draws offer players the chance to win big with a single line of numbers.

How it all started
In 2000 the Lotto embarked on a marketing drive to reach 80% of South African homes directly, while the live draw TV show awarding prizes to a studio audience fast drew a huge following too. On the first day of ticket sales for the first lotto draw more than 800,000 tickets were sold and within 3 weeks nearly R70 million worth of sales had been clocked up.

When the S.A National Lottery was started it was run by Uthingo. They managed it until 2006 when it was taken over by Gidani, who continue to run it to this day. Initially the lotto was run once a week with a weekly draw on a Saturday and those who wanted to purchase Lottery Tickets could do so up until a few hours before the winners were drawn. Uthingo proposed that a second draw be added but their keno-based idea was rejected by the Trade and Industry department. In November 2003 an additional draw named Lotto Plus was added, giving players an extra chance of winning in a secondary competition.

A second weekly draw was also added at a later stage, and Lotto was now played on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Then the Powerball game was created, and players had even more opportunity to purchase Lottery Tickets and stand a chance of being a winner. Powerball games fell in between Lotto draws on a Tuesday and Friday and there have been several Powerball millionaires in the few years since its inception.

Celebrating 14 years
The lottery has not always run as smoothly as intended and at one stage a dispute between Uthingo and the National Lotteries Council caused a complete halt in play. It was only a few months later when Gidani stepped in as the new operator that the lotto resumed, and on their first draw more than 200,000 tickets were sold in 3 hours.

In the last 14 years technology has also had a great influence on the way people buy tickets and online sales through sites like have increased sales dramatically. It’s now even simpler to buy a ticket and check it online. In celebration of their birthday the lotto has been offering some massive jackpots and since March 2014 more than R40 million in jackpots have been won.

The South African lotto is now firmly established and looks set to continue making people millionaires for many years to come. With 4 draws a week it’s also one of the most regularly played games internationally, and there are plenty of opportunities to win big when spending only a few rands.

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