How Likely Are You REALLY to Win the South African Lottery?

If you are a big fan of the lottery and are known to buy a ticket or two, always wondering if you will ever see the day when those numbers on the television screen match the numbers on your ticket, then you are certainly not alone. Millions of South Africans feel the same way. 😀

The lottery is a big thing in South Africa, and it’s not hard to see why. A slice of the grand prize is enough to change anyone’s life, let alone the whole lot of it! It is anybody’s dream to win it – but it is a dream that can only come true for a select few people. This is why it’s no wonder one requires a lot of patience and perseverance when it comes to this game of chance. But have you ever sat down and thought about how likely you are to really win it?

Find out how to play lottery in South Africa and more importantly, how to win!

How to Play Lottery – Can You Predict the Winning Lottery Numbers?

Let’s cut to the chase and answer the million-dollar question here (pun intended 💥):

Is it possible to predict the winning numbers of the lottery? South African National Lottery logo with lion

Well, here’s the unarguable truth: the lottery is a game of chance, and its very intent is to be completely random and unpredictable, which means that the possibility of predicting the winning numbers is quite low. Notice, however, how we have phrased that sentence.

We didn’t say predicting the lottery was impossible – we said the chances are low. This is because, theoretically speaking, you can actually tilt the odds in your favour and increase your chances of winning.

Yes, mostly it’s all about luck, in fact, a lot of past winners were extremely lucky to have the correct prediction of the winning numbers with just one ticket.

A case in point is the Powerball draw that took place last year on 1st December 2020, which received some intense scrutiny – including the announcement of an enquiry by the National Lottery Commission (NLC) – after twenty people guessed this sequence right and shared the winnings, pocketing R5.7 million each!

If you’re wondering what the winning numbers were, this was the winning set: 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, together with the PowerBall number 10.

Yes, that simple, can you believe it?

After reading that, you are probably telling yourself that this is evidence that luck is all you need to have to win this game. But there are always two ways of seeing things in life. As the great Ernest Hemingway once said, “You make your own luck”. And in this case, “making your own luck” is no easy feat, but is still very much possible – it all boils down to one thing: Math.

But before we come close to understanding how Math can help, first it’s important to understand the basic workings of the lottery game.

So, How Does the Lottery Actually Work?

The South African National lottery works the same way as all the other lotteries around the world, in that it offers totally random outcomes.

What’s different, however, are the odds of winning, which are different for each lottery depending on the range of numbers you can select from, and the total number of picks available.

Let’s take a look at the following types of South African lotteries & how to play lottery you wish. Players are required to pick up a bet slip and select 5 or 6 numbers from the set given, but the total number of picks and the numbers available differ as they depend on the game being played.🎯

Lotto

The numbers available in this game are 1 to 52, and you are required to pick 6 numbers. You also need to pick an additional bonus number; this number will come into play when you are not able to pick all 6 regular numbers. The ticket cost is R5 per board.

Lotto Plus 1

This is just like Lotto, except that you get an additional second chance to win if you want at an extra R2.50 per board. The odds are the same; only the prizes are slightly lower.

Lotto Plus 2

This game is also like Lotto and Lotto 1, except that it offers you a third chance to win off one ticket. This game too costs an additional R2.50 per board. The odds remain the same, but the prizes dip slightly.

PowerBall

This game requires you to draw 5 numbers from 1 to 50 – it was 1 to 45 when it first started – and pick an additional ‘PowerBall’ number from 1 to 20. The cost is R5 per board, and you can play as many boards as you like.

PowerBall Plus

This game is just like PowerBall, except that it gives you a second chance to win off the same ticket. You will need to pay an additional R2.50 for this game.

Daily Lotto

This game is played daily and requires you to select 5 numbers and hope they match the numbers drawn. The cost is R3 per board. If no one is able to match all 5 numbers to the drawn numbers, the prize is awarded to anyone with 4 matching numbers. The odds are lower for this game.

 

Other games available include SportStake 8, SportStake 13 and EAZiWin/Raffle.

Winning Odds per Lottery

This is a simple breakdown of the theoretical odds according to every lottery available from the South African National Lottery:

Game Name Theoretical Odds
Lotto 1:20,358,520 for matching all 6 balls
Lotto Plus 1 1:20,358,520 for matching all 6 balls
Lotto Plus 2 1:20,358,520 for matching all 6 balls
PowerBall 1:42,375,200 for matching all balls including PowerBall
Daily Lotto 1:376,992 for matching all 5 balls
SportStake 8 1:43,046,721 for predicting 16 match results correctly
SportStake 13 1:1,594,323 for predicting 13 match results correctly

How are the Odds Calculated?

Let’s take the Powerball lottery as an example. This is how you can get an estimation of the odds of winning this game:

Number 1 Pick 5 numbers from 1 to 50 in the main set and one number from 1 to 20 from the secondary number set. Let’s pick 5, 46, 31, 13 and 28 from the main set and 16 from the secondary set as an example.

Number 2 Given that there are 50 numbers in all in the main set and 20 totally in the secondary number set, the following are a few assumptions we can straight away make about your chances of winning the jackpot:

Total Numbers We Can Pick Decreasing with Every Selection Total Number in the Set Decreasing with Every Selection Chances of Winning:
5 (1st selection) 50 5/50
4 (2nd selection) 50 - 1 = 49 4/49
3 (3rd selection) 49 - 1 = 48 3/48
3 (4th selection) 48 - 1 = 47 2/47
1 (5th selection) 47 - 1 = 46 1/46

Number 3 Multiply the values in the third column to get the odds of winning for the first 5 numbers:

Odds of winning

Number 4 After that, we also have the 6th number, the PowerBall number, to consider. You have to choose 1 number out of the field of 20 for this value, so to find the overall odds of winning at PowerBall we multiply the value we got for the 5 numbers by 1/20:

Equation lottery probability

So your odds of winning at PowerBall are effectively 1 in 42,375,200!

Odds vs. Probability 🎲

When it comes to games of chance, we tend to use the words “probability” and “odds” interchangeably, but the problem is that these two words hold different meanings, even though they are directly related to each other.

In simple terms, the probability is the likelihood that something will happen or not.

In numerical terms, this is represented by “0” – meaning that something is impossible to happen, and “1” something is certainly possible to happen. Anything in between 0 and 1, ranges from “very unlikely” and “unlikely” to 50/50 chance, and “likely” to “very likely”.

Probability of Winning the Lottery Scale

Now, when it comes to simple scenarios such as, the chances of getting heads or tails when tossing a coin, it is fairly easy to determine the probability for each; since there are only two possible outcomes, the probability of getting either side of the coin is 50/50.

However, when you have multiple outcomes at play, such as in the case of a lottery game, the use of odds is required to determine the “ratio of success to failure”, in order to come up with an accurate probability.

The way in which odds are determined is by taking the probability that an event will occur and divide it by the probability that the event will not occur. The higher the number on the other side of the ratio, the less likely you are to win.

Therefore, applying this concept to the lottery, there are two important factors that help determine the odds of your winning:

  • NUMBER FIELD: A game with a smaller number field always offers better odds. Therefore, playing a game with 36 numbers is always better than playing one with 50.
  • PICK SIZE: A smaller pick size increases the odds of your winning. A 5-pick game, therefore, is always better than a 6-pick game in terms of winning odds.

The following table gives you an idea of how these 2 factors work in combination to impact the winning odds in the lotto:

Lotto System Total Possible Combinations Odds
5/20 15,504 1 : 15,503
5/35 324,632 1 : 324,631
5/42 850,668 1 : 850,667
5/50 2,118,760 1 : 2,118,759
6/42 5,245,786 1 : 5,245,785
6/49 13,983,816 1 : 13,983,816
5/90 43,949,268 1 : 43,949,268
6/90 622,614,630 1 : 622,614,630

Courtesy of LotteryCodex

The above table shows that the odds are best with the 5/20 system, and if we had to revisit the table containing all the odds for the different South African lotteries, we’d soon be able to find that the lottery game with the best odds is the “DAILY LOTTO” which has the smallest ratio out of all the other lotteries 1:376,992 and in fact, uses a 5/20 lotto system.

Using Odds to Calculate Winning Combinations

Now, that you have a good understanding of what odds are and how they are calculated, we can now move onto the juicy part.

So, we know that we cannot change the probability of any game nor beat the odds, but, with Math, you can give yourself an advantage. You can give yourself the best ratio of success to failure by looking at all the possible combinations and make a more informed decision when choosing the right one.

The trick is, to increase the opportunities of winning! 🏆

If we look at the table above provided by LotteryCodex, in a 6/49 game there are 13,983,816 possible combinations that can be composed. This means your probability of winning a game is one in almost 14,000,000 chances.

If you had to go with a purely even combination of numbers, your chances of winning will be 1 out of 103:

Possibility of lottery success

P.S. Possibility of no success is calculated as follows: (total number of possibilities – possibilities of success)

The way to understand this in simple terms is that in this 6/49 game, it would take 100 draws before you can get a winning advantage.

The problem here is that you only have “one” opportunity to succeed in every draw.

So, how can we gain a better advantage and increase the ratio of success?

Let’s now take a 3-even and 3-odd number combination approach.

According to LotteryCodex, in a 6/49 game, there are 4,655,200 ways you can combine six numbers with this 3-odd and 3-even approach, increasing the opportunities from 1 to 33, to match the winning numbers every 100 times you play the lottery. When calculating the probability of success, the ratio becomes much more favourable;

Possibility of success at winning the lottery 1-2

Therefore, opting for a 3-even and 3-odd combination of numbers increases your chances of winning greatly than opting for a 6-even or 6-odd combination of numbers.

The list goes on and you can experiment and test out other sets of combinations for each lottery, to try and find the right balance that offers the most opportunities and the best success ratio overall. It also gets a bit more complicated when you’re also calculating the chances of guessing the correct powerball number, but the method is more or less the same.

So you see, although you cannot change the probability or odds of a lottery game, you can still make a more informed, intelligent guess using Math.

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Other Ways How You Can Go About Choosing Your Lucky Numbers

Even though the above-mentioned method is the most theoretically accurate way of increasing one’s chances of winning the lottery, the truth is, if everyone were able to do it, everyone would.Lotto Scratch Card

The reality is not everyone can comprehend math, and we’d also be lying if we said that that was a foolproof way of ending up with the correct combination of numbers. Whilst it does theoretically increase the chances of winning, there is still no real guarantee of winning.

So, if you don’t have the mathematical skill or the required amount of patience, don’t worry, there are other ways you could go about choosing your winning numbers, for example by basing your choices on statistical data – in the form of hot numbers. Or be the eternal optimist and use luck, astrology and other non-scientific options.

Using Statistical Data (Choosing Most Common Numbers)

If you had to check the game statistics carefully, you would easily find that some numbers have been drawn more times than the others over the past 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 100 draws. These numbers are called ‘hot’ 🔥 numbers, and they vary according to the different games in the South African national lottery, for example:

Game Type Hot Numbers
PowerBall 37, 3, 13, 41, 6
Lotto 23, 15, 18, 16, 13
Lotto Plus 47, 21, 28, 5, 30

This strategy of betting on hot numbers is quite a popular one, and is something that might be worth considering.

Picking Your Lucky Numbers Based on Horoscopes

If you don’t have faith in math or find it too complicated, you could use a little bit of help from astrology and choose your numbers based on your horoscope. This may seem far-fetched but it has worked wonders for some players.

Going With Your Own Personal Lucky Numbers

Another way of choosing your lottery numbers is to base it on numbers that have worked for you; numbers assigned to you through your sun sign, for instance.

Lucky numbers could also be based on important days in your life, like your birthday or the birthdays of family members, your anniversary or any life-altering event.

A good example of a lottery success based on lucky numbers is that of Young Soo Lee, USA. She always picked lottery numbers based on birthdays of family members & won a jackpot of $318 million.

Letting the Computer Choose For You With the Quick Pick Selection

If you’re feeling really lucky, and don’t want to stress too much about which numbers to select, you could always leave it 100% up to chance by going with the “Quick Pick” option.

The difference between manual selection and the quick pick option is basic – the manual method requires you to choose the numbers on your own, while the quick pick method allows the computer to choose them for you. It does this by using a certified random number generator (RNG).

This option is available for every lottery, and is also available both online and offline. All you have to do is mark the box with the Quick Pick option if you are playing it offline, or click the Quick Pick option if you are playing online.

Selecting the “Quick Pick” option is super easy. The process is more or less the same as the manual selection. The only difference is that instead of choosing the numbers on your own you click the Quick Pick button for the number to get chosen automatically, which looks something like this:

Manual Selection:

When you are playing online, this is what you will need to do to choose your numbers manually:

  1. Create an online account for the National Lottery.
  2. Sign in to your account.
  3. Select the game you wish to play.
  4. Select the numbers from the sets provided. You can play multiple tickets.
  5. Make your payment based on the game and the number of tickets.

Quick Pick Selection:

To choose the “Quick Pick” option, all you have to do is swap step number 4 with “Select Quick Pick”:

  1. Create an online account for the National Lottery.
  2. Sign in to your account.
  3. Select the game you wish to play.
  4. Select “Quick Pick”
  5. Make your payment based on the game and the number of tickets.

Few Tips for Increasing Your Chances of Winning

If you’re going with more of a luck-based approach, we still have a few handy tips that work when it comes to choosing winning numbers:

  1. Try to go with the game that has better odds. As explained previously, the odds of winning will vary for the different lottery games, depending on the total numbers used and also the presence of the extra number to determine the jackpot. It, therefore, makes sense to play the lottery game that gives you the best odds.
  2. Although the “Quick Pick” option is handy, it is the one which you have the least control over, so the manual selection is a better option.
  3. Extensive research before selecting your numbers is important. You have the option of looking at hot numbers and statistical data.
  4. Work with games that are not too popular and are played at odd hours.
  5. Try not to pick consecutive numbers.
  6. Try to balance out even and odd numbers.
  7. Try not to choose numbers ending in the same digit, e.g. 24, 34, 44, 54 etc.
  8. Buy multiple tickets instead of a single ticket; it greatly increases your chances of winning by that much.
  9. Another option is to form a lottery syndicate. If you win you will need to share your winnings with other members of the syndicate but the chances of winning shoot up astronomically, at minimal cost to each individual. Imagine a syndicate of 10 people, with each person buying 20 tickets; that increases your odds of a win from 1 to 200!

Which is the Most Popular Lottery in South Africa?

In total, there are 7 lottery games currently available under the National Lottery in South Africa:

Powerball Logo Daily lotto Logo Sportstake8 Logo Sportstake13 logo National Lottery Raffle EaziWin Logo National lottery logo

Lotto was the popular game in the South African National Lottery right from the time it was launched.

However, since the first PowerBall draw on Friday, 23rd October, 2009, PowerBall has emerged as the most popular of them all because of the huge payouts it offers.

PowerBall is easy to play and players can play as many boards as they like for a single draw. There is a multi-draw option that allows you to use the same numbers across multiple draws. The following are the steps to play the game offline:

  1. Get yourself a PowerBall betting slip.
  2. Select 5 numbers from 1 to 50 from the main lot.
  3. Select 1 number from 1 to 20 from the secondary lot.
  4. Take the bet slip to an approved lottery agent or retailer.
  5. Make your payment and collect your receipt.
  6. The receipt lists out the numbers you selected. Ensure that you keep this receipt safe and write your name at the back.
  7. Wait for the next PowerBall draw on one of the TV channels for the results.

Past Lotto Winners

No matter how much math you use, you will still need luck to be able to hit that elusive monster jackpot in the South African national lottery games. And there are a few who have actually managed to hit it out of the park!

Here are the stories of a few of these amazing wins and the players behind them.

An Anonymous Player Wins a Massive R145 Million on PowerBall on 3rd August, 2018

All we know about the player is that he is a young engineer, and that he was scared of even venturing outside till he collected his payout. He picked his 5 numbers and then picked the number 4 as his PowerBall number. The total cost of ticket purchases stood at R20.

The story seems straight out of a movie: he picked the numbers by following the Fafi system of dream analysis and associated random events and objects with various numbers as they came to him. He apparently dreamed of a fight prior to getting started with his game. Till he claimed his winnings, he kept the winning ticket in a sock!

Player in Bloemfontein Wins R102 Million on 3rd June, 2011

This story has the thrills and spills too, in ample measure! When he brought the ticket to the cashier, he almost threw it away when the scanner failed – 2 times continuously – to scan it. The cashier got the machine up and running for a third attempt at scanning the ticket and the rest, as they say, is history!

The winner preferred to stay anonymous, but he did say that he bought the ticket at the Spitskop Total fuel station in Langenhovenpark, Bloemfontein. With the win amount, he was looking to expand his business.

Biggest Jackpot Winner in South African History

The big daddy of all National Lottery wins in South Africa came on February 19, 2019, in Cape Town. On that day, history was made as the biggest PowerBall jackpot in South Africa ever – a staggering R232 million – was hit.⭐⭐⭐

For security reasons, the winner declined to name/identify himself in front of the media and remains anonymous. Suffice to say he is a hard-working man in his 50s holding a blue collar job. He may have won R232 million but he wasn’t going to quit his job, apparently.

He selected the numbers manually at an OK Mini Mart in Tygerdal for a princely sum of R22.50. The winner claimed the money a week after he won the jackpot. All he wanted to do with his prize is ensure it is well-spent on providing the best education for his children.

Girl Wins Lottery

What Happens When You Win the South African National Lottery?

The process to follow once you win the South African National Lottery will vary depending on the amount you win and the mode of purchase of the ticket.

Winning on a Ticket Bought at a Physical Lottery Retail Store

If you won on a physical ticket bought at a physical lottery retail store, sign your name on the back of the ticket immediately. Your lottery ticket is a bearer instrument, which means whoever hands it in will be declared the winner, after proper authentication of course. By signing your name you ensure that no one else is able to claim your winnings.
The next step is to claim your winnings. The process varies depending on the amount you won:

  • Winnings of up to R2,000: You can claim your winnings at any licensed lottery retail store in South Africa. Visit the store, show them your signed ticket and collect your winnings; as easy as that!
  • Winnings from R2001 to R49,999: You can collect winnings from R2001 to R49,999 from any authorized payment centre.
  • Winnings above R50,000: To collect winnings above R50,000 you must fill out a Prize Claim Form. You can collect this form from any post-office. Once you have filled out the form, here is what you do:
  • Visit the regional office of ITHUBA with your Prize Claim Form and the signed winning ticket.
  • Meet a customer support executive there.
  • For winners of prizes above R50,000 ITHUBA offers the following services for FREE:
  1. Trauma counseling: It can be traumatic to suddenly wake up with millions of Rands in your account!
  2. Financial advice: You are given free financial advice by a professional financial advisor on what to do with your money and ensure you don’t end up losing everything in a hurry.
  3. Wealth management advice: You get free advice on the possible ways to invest your winnings.
  4. After you have met the executives from ITHUBA and got your win validated, the processing time is roughly 72 hours from the time of validation.
  5. Once the payment is approved, the money reaches your account within 24 hours.

Winning on a Lotto Ticket Bought Online

If you win the lottery on a ticket that you purchased online, the payout process is fast and simple.

  • All payments up to R50,000 are transferred to your account immediately.
  • Winnings of R50,000 and above require you to fill out a Prize Claim Form. Once you have filled out your form, you will need to visit a local ITHUBA office to get your winnings validated and processed.

Winning on Ticket Purchased Through Your Bank

All winnings up to R49,999 on a ticket purchased through your bank are transferred directly into your account. Supported banks are:

  • NedBank
  • FNB
  • Standard Bank

For winnings of R50,000 and above you will have to fill out a Prize Claim Form and visit an ITHUBA regional office to provide them with proof of identity, bank statements for a month and your ticket reference number.

Winning on Ticket Purchased Through Phone

You are now able to buy tickets for the South African National Lottery directly from your phone as well! Once you have bought the tickets through phone, here’s what you do to collect winnings:

  • Winnings up to R50,000: For winnings secured through the USSD number of your bank, are credited directly to your mobile account; i.e. the account you used to purchase through your mobile device. It takes up to 7 working days for the prize money to hit your account.

Winnings secured through your National Lottery account are processed differently.

  • The lottery authorities send you an SMS notifying you of your win and listing out the steps to follow to claim the winnings.
  • You must provide proof of identity

Once the validation is complete the lottery authorities deposit the money into the e-wallet that you have linked to your account. From there, you can easily transfer the winnings to your bank account.

  • Winnings above R50,000: For winnings on a ticket purchased through your USSD number the lottery authorities will get in touch with you directly. You will have to visit an official center and confirm your identity to get the payout processed.

For winnings on a ticket purchased through your National Lottery account, the process is the same as for winnings less than R50,000 through the same method.

What to Do When You Win the South African National Lottery

Sign the ticket to ensure no one else is able to claim it.

Keep a low profile and avoid unnecessary attention.

Get a team in place to help you make the best decisions for yourself. You will need:

A. A lawyer with financial awareness

B. A financial planner

C. An accountant

Spend time soaking in the win so you know what you will do with it.

Don’t instantly quit your job to ensure you stay grounded.

Don’t brag about your win to avoid the big lineup of unwanted friends.

How Do You Collect Your Winnings?

There are 2 ways to collect your winnings from the South African National Lottery:

  • Payments in installments over a specified period of time
  • Payment as a lump sum

Each of these methods has its own merits and demerits. Collecting your money in installments is a good option for 2 reasons:

  • You are assured of collecting the full amount that you won.
  • You are guaranteed a healthy income month-on-month till the installment period is complete.

The disadvantage to this method is that you don’t get a huge amount at one go. So if there was a mansion you were planning to surprise your family with, you wouldn’t be able to do that.

Taking your winnings at one go, as a lump sum, gives you the satisfaction of scoring a monstrous win. You check your account and you actually get to see a few million Rands, and that is a great feeling!

The disadvantage is that you will not get the entire win amount; you will win about 70% of the total amount, and there may be a certain deduction towards tax.

Is There Bad Luck When Taking Your Lottery Winnings as a Lump Sum Payment?

Handling a huge amount of money can be a challenge in itself; because we are not used to it. We may not know what to do with it and actually end up blowing it all away. Ridiculous or even strange as that may sound, it is actually true; there have been quite a few instances of South African lottery winners who actually threw it all away.

In this section we take a look at 3 such stories.

Limpopo Winner Who Won R6.1 Million in 2006

You win R6.1 million and you are set for life, right? Wrong! At least that is what happened to this anonymous winner from Limpopo who won that huge paycheck in 2006.

10 years after he won, the winner had nothing to show except 2 broken second-hand tractors and a house that was partly renovated.

The man says the win destroyed his family. The winning amount was siphoned off his account, allegedly by one of the sons who was later shot dead.

KwaZulu Natal Winner Who Won R10.4 Million in 2009

This winner from KwaZulu Natal was a police officer. After he won, he left the force and lived the high life, making real estate and business investments.

He divorced his wife and, after she was given half of what he had, was left with R2.5 million. In 2014, he was charged with impersonating a police officer and also theft and lost everything.Woman informs of lottery win

Winner in Western Cape Who Squandered the R6.7 Million He Won in 2003

You win the massive jackpot of R6.7 million when you are 18, you have to be careful. Else you may end up like this youngster from Western Cape. He won R6.7 million in 2003 and squandered it all.

His life spiralling out of control after the win, he lost everything he had and took to drugs and crime. He ended up a decade later in prison, sentenced to 28 years on charges of murder.

The Effects of Winning the Lottery

So how do you feel when you win a life-altering lottery amount? We have for you the views of players who have actually won multi-million Rand jackpot.

For the 45-year old from Cape Town, winning the R87 million PowerBall Lottery on a R20 ticket was a surreal experience. He had bought the ticket 15 minutes before the deadline. And it was worth every Rand he had spent over the 16 years that he had played the lottery, paying little heed to his wife’s misgivings about lotteries.

After winning the lottery, he took about a week to recover from the surreal feeling that it gave him. This man with Christian groundings is not flying high though; feet firmly on the ground he says he will continue working as a public servant, and may also possibly buy his family a car and a mansion.

Another story is that of a small business owner from Gauteng. When he was told he had won the R37.9 million lottery his first reaction was disbelief. After realizing he was the winner, he couldn’t sleep for a couple of days and went through a rollercoaster of emotions, from anxiety to joy to calm.

He doesn’t plan to let the world know about his good fortune, for reasons of safety. Of course he does know what he wants to do first with his money – buy a tombstone for his late father. And then buy a car for his business, of course.

Why the Lottery has Always Been Popular in South Africa

The lottery has always been popular in South Africa. On the day of its launch, it sold 800,000 tickets. In the first 3 weeks it sold tickets worth R70 million. And there’s more: a study in 2006 showed that the most popular form of gambling in the country was the lottery, with a 96.9% participation rate!

There are numerous reasons for the popularity of the lottery in South Africa. First of all, it is a licensed betting activity – it is regulated by the National Lotteries Commission – and that automatically gives players a sense of security, fair play and reliability.

Secondly, the cost of each ticket is nominal –a Lotto ticket costs R5 per board, while a Lotto Plus 1 ticket costs an extra R2.50. That is the kind of money you wouldn’t hesitate to spend, especially when you have the possibility of ending up a multimillionaire!

Thirdly, the National Lottery of South Africa supports a number of charities and projects that are important but not eligible to receive government funding. The current operator, ITHUBA, for instance, has been supporting education initiatives and other important work like ensuring sustainability of different communities with a portion of the money it raises from the lottery.

Fourthly, the lottery is easy to play! Just pick up a betting slip, choose your numbers, make your payment and wait for the results to be announced. The transparency of the whole process is another huge contributor to the popularity of the lottery.

And finally, your lottery winnings in South Africa are TAX-FREE, unless of course you are a professional gambler for whom the lottery happens to be a primary source of income.

Lottery Scratch Card

Historical Background

South Africa had its first glimpse of the National Lottery back in 2000, on 11th March. But that was not the beginning; it all started with the appointment of members to the National Lotteries Board in 1998 after the passage of the Lotteries Act in 1997.

The board had multiple tasks, the most important one being helping the Minister of Trade and Industry zero in on an operator to run the National Lottery for a period of 7 years.

The first license was awarded to Uthingo in 1999. President Thabo Mbeki then launched the National Lottery the following year.

The second organization to run the National Lottery was Gidani (Pty) Ltd; it was awarded the license for 7 years – starting from April 2007 – in 2006, a decision that was subsequently challenged by Uthingo. It led to the license for Gidani being suspended in April 2007, though it won it finally in September 2007.

In 2015, the license was awarded to ITHUBA Holdings RF (Proprietary) Limited. It brought 2 new games into the National Lottery fold – EAZiWin and PowerBall Plus. Currently, the lottery has 7 games in all.

Who Can Play the Lottery in South Africa?

Any South African can play the South African National Lottery as long as they fulfill the basic requirements.

  • You must be 18 years old.
  • You can buy the tickets at physical locations or online websites.
  • If you are buying the lottery tickets personally you would need to visit any of the following:
    1. An approved retailer
    2. Participating South African banks
    3. Hand-held partners

You also have the option of purchasing lottery tickets online. The criteria is:

  • Account with one of the following South African banks:
    1. ABSA
    2. NedBank
    3. FNB
  • Standard Bank
  • Membership with the National Lottery website and also
  • Residency in South Africa with a valid South African ID

So does this mean international players are not allowed to play the South African National Lottery? No, it doesn’t; but there are basic criteria to be met.

The following are the criteria for a foreigner looking to play the physical version of the lottery:

  • You must have a South African National Lottery ticket with your signature on the back.
  • You must have a valid passport and permit for entering South Africa so that you can receive your winnings.
  • You must have an account with a South African bank, as winnings are paid into South African banks only.
  • You must submit proof of your South African bank account while claiming your winnings.

If you are a foreigner who wants to play the South African National Lottery you also have the option of playing the game directly on the National Lottery website or at sites that offer the South African lottery. This is how it works:

  1. You buy your lottery ticket from one of the online sites that offer South African lottery tickets.
  2. A representative from the local office then buys a ticket for you.
  3. When you win, the local agent who bought your ticket will claim the winnings for you, then transfer it to your account.
Provide proof of winning the lottery

State vs. International Lotteries in South Africa

The South African national lottery is very popular among players because of the big amounts it offers as winnings. So how does it fare vs. international lotteries? Not too well, apparently!

This is because the international lotteries offer monstrous prizes, and no matter how big the South African lottery is, for the simple fact of currency conversion its payouts cannot match the international lottery payouts even remotely.

A good example is the case of the payout that the American PowerBall Lottery offered in January 2016 – it was a mind-numbing $1.58 billion!

Another international lottery, the American Mega Millions, offered a jackpot of $283 million or R3.85 billion! 🤑

 

The following table shows the rewards offered by international lotteries. It instantly gives you an idea of how far down the ladder the South African lottery is in terms of the payouts it offers.

Lottery Country Prize Date Won
PowerBall America USA $1.58 billion 13th January 2016
Mega Millions America USA $1.37 billion 23rd October 2018
Mega Millions America USA $656 million 3th March 2012
Mega Millions America USA $656 million 3th March 2012
PowerBall America USA $590 million 18th May 2013
Mega Millions America USA $451 million 5th January 2018

Interesting Facts about the Lottery

There are quite a few interesting facts about the South African National Lottery, from the amount of money that goes into the lottery annually to the way the profits are split.

How Much Money Goes Into the Lottery Every Year?

From the time it was launched, the South African National Lottery has seen a lot of money going into it every year.

Total transaction values in FY2007, for instance, crossed R3.972 billion, at an average of R5 million each week. That number touched new heights in 2012, reaching an incredible R4.7 billion from the sale of Lotto and PowerBall tickets.

How much money goes into the National Lottery can be gauged by the fact that it contributes a substantial amount each year to the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF), which was set up for the express purpose of protecting the money that came in through the lottery and ensuring it was invested to benefit noble and good causes.

The numbers below state the amount that the National Lottery contributes to the NLDTF each year and gives you an idea of how much money it rakes in annually:

  • R1.3 billion in 2006-07
  • R0.7 billion in 2007-08
  • R1.5 billion in 2008-09
  • R1.6 billion in 2009-10
  • R1.6 billion in 2010-11
  • R1.6 billion in 2011-12
  • R1.6 billion in 2012-13
  • R1.57 billion in 2013-14

Profits Split

The South African National Lottery generates a healthy profit. The profits are split for distribution among various organizations under the supervision of the NLDTF.

  • 50% of the profits are spent on paying out the massive prizes on offer.
  • 35% of the profits are directed to the NLDTF for distribution among good causes.
  • 6% of the profits are shared among the lottery retail vendors and sellers.
  • 10% of the profits are held back for maintenance and upkeep to ensure the lottery continues to run.

The funds that are allotted for good causes are shared between the following:

  • Arts, culture and heritage sector, through the Arts, Culture and National Heritage Distributing Agency
  • Charities sector, through the Charities Distributing Agency. The NLC channels 47% of the total amount allocated for good causes to this sector.
  • Sports and recreation sector, through the Sport and Recreation Distributing Agency. The NLC has provided this sector with more than R4 billion in the last 16 years
  • Miscellaneous purposes for deserving organizations that are not covered under any of the above 3 sectors It receives 2% of the funds allocated.

What Happens to Unclaimed Lotto Winnings?

Surprising as it may sound, there are numerous instances of a winning lottery ticket going unclaimed! This can happen for a number of reasons:

  • The player lost the lottery ticket and isn’t aware he is the winning number.
  • The player is a regular and forgot to check it for the win.
  • The player usually checks only for the top winner, and isn’t aware about or doesn’t bother checking for the lesser prizes.
  • The player’s ticket got damaged and he thinks it won’t be accepted as a valid ticket.

The good news is, you don’t have to claim your winnings immediately after you win; you can take your time! The timeframe for claiming winnings, set by the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), is 365 days.

So what happens if you don’t claim your winnings? If you don’t claim your winnings within the 365-day time period, the NLC keeps that amount and distributes it among deserving charities.

FAQs

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How do I win the lotto?

To win the lotto, you will need to first play it. Pick a bet slip, choose your numbers and make the payment at a retail vendor. Then, wait for the results to be announced.

There is no guaranteed way to win; as this is a game of chance. You can of course do your research on the numbers that are hot, numbers that haven’t been picked, and other criteria. If you believe in numbers you could also use numerology to pick your numbers.

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How does one predict the numbers for the next lottery?

Unfortunately, there is no way to predict the numbers for the next lottery. The numbers are drawn randomly, making it almost impossible to get the numbers down correctly. Of course, a lot of people use the probability theory and combinatorial math to zero in on possible numbers. For this, you will need to be a math whiz or know one.

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What is a Random Number Generator?

The Random Number Generator (RNG) is a software program that online casinos, lotteries, and other gambling entities use to offer completely randomized and therefore fair gaming outcomes.

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Is there a secret formula to winning the lotto or any other lottery?

There is no official secret to winning the lotto or PowerBall or any other lottery. You need good luck and the ability to choose your numbers well. You can of course use math to determine the probability, but it doesn’t guarantee a win.

Here are a few tips:

  • Keep track of hot numbers and cold numbers for an idea of what numbers to select.
  • Do not pick a number that an earlier player won with.
  • Pick both low numbers and high numbers.
  • Pick numbers that didn’t make it to the winning lists earlier.
  • Pick odd numbers as well as even numbers.
  • Ensure that you have good balance in the number set you pick.
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What happens when you win the National Lottery in South Africa?

Once you know that you have won the National Lottery in South Africa, you will first need to sign at the back of the lottery ticket to ensure no one else is able to, even by mistake or with intent, claim your prize.

Take some time off to get used to the fact that you have won a jackpot. Once you are ready, call the ITHUBA regional office to inform them, and then visit them with a signed copy of your ticket to collect your winnings.

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Where do I claim lotto winnings in South Africa?

If your lotto win is R2000 or lesser you can collect it at any licensed lotto retailer.

For wins between R2001 and R49,999 you will need to visit an authorized payment centre.

For wins of R50,000 and above, you will have to fill out a Prize Claim Form and visit the regional office of ITHUBA to collect your winnings.

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How long does it take to get the money when you win the lottery in South Africa?

From the time you visit the regional ITHUBA centre to claim your winnings, it takes approximately 72 hours or 3 working days for your payout to be processed.

Once the payout is processed, it reaches your account within 24 hours.

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Can you win the lottery by cheating?

Usually, you will not be able to win the lottery by cheating. The draw is random, so it is not possible to predict the winning numbers generally.

And once you put your signature at the back of your ticket, no one else can claim your winnings.

If you don’t do that, though, and someone else gets hold of your ticket, they can well claim the winnings if they place their signature on it, because the lottery ticket is a bearer instrument – the bearer of the lottery gets paid. There are systems in place now, though, to ensure no winner is cheated out of his winnings.

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How do I calculate the odds of winning the lottery in South Africa?

A good way of calculating the odds of winning the lottery in South Africa is by using math; use the probability theory and combinatorial math together to determine the odds, as shown in the article earlier.

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Do you need to pay tax on lottery winnings in South Africa?

No, there is no tax on lottery winnings in South Africa. The only exception is if you are a professional gambler and use the lottery as your primary source of income. In that case you will be taxed.