Everything You Need to Know about South Africa’s Love of Lotteries

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Everything You Need to Know about South Africa's Love of Lotteries
"Marking numbers on lottery ticket" (CC BY 2.0) by wuestenigel

It’s been 23 years since South Africa’s legislature introduced the Gambling Act of 1996, which greatly expanded the freedoms that all kinds of gambling and lottery institutions could enjoy. Licensed, controlled and rigorously checked to maintain exceptionally high standards, it’s meant that, today, South Africans are enjoying far fairer and more consistent experiences than they ever were before.

But whilst games like poker and blackjack have only limited appeal amongst the masses, one game has proven to be a hit across the social spectrum – the lottery.

Established in 2000, the South African National Lottery has become a national institution, giving anyone with enough money for a ticket the dream of winning jackpots that can reach as high as R110 million, as they did in January 2018. Those are life-changing sums, but even a more standard R30 million pay-out is enough to set somebody up for the rest of their life.

Just how popular is South Africa’s lotto? It’s understood that around 82% of the population play a lotto game every week, with the most common players being those in lower income brackets. That’s enough to make it one of the most popular lotteries in the world!

But what do you need to know about the state of lotteries in South Africa? Join us as we take a look.

How much do lotteries generate?

Lotteries have become a very big business for South Africa indeed in the almost-20 years they’ve been available in the country. Revenue from the National Lottery alone is projected to hit R2.33 billion in 2019, but whilst this eye-watering sum is certainly impressive, it’s barely the tip of the iceberg.

The general legalisation and licensing of lotteries have meant that alongside the National Lottery, there are now online alternatives like Lottoland South Africa, which offers more regular draws and the opportunity to buy more tickets for the same sum as a national ticket.

Such options are proving hugely popular amongst an increasingly online-savvy population. Although we don’t get reported revenue numbers from online operators like Lottoland offering R70 million pay-outs, it’s fair to assume that the combined revenues would be significantly higher.

How do South African lotteries compare internationally?

Source: Pixabay

Lotteries are popular wherever they are in the world, but the scale of the pay-outs varies dramatically, being largely influenced by the size of the playing population and the cost of tickets.

It’s for this reason that South Africa, with its relatively small population of 56.72 million and its very affordable ticket prices, which are often a fraction of the cost of international tickets, has significantly smaller pay-outs.

For the biggest lottery payday, you’d have to head to America where, in 2016, three families shared a win of $1.586 billion (R225.55 billion). They’re outrageous sums which firmly dwarf that of South Africa’s lotteries. Tickets, however, are $2 each – almost three times the cost of a lottery ticket in South Africa, and America’s population is over 372 million. Together, these ensure that the lottery is not only more expensive to play, but you’re also significantly less likely to win.

It’s a trade-off which ensures that although sums are significantly higher overseas (even in countries with similar populations, like the UK), opportunities to win are limited significantly.

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