Is online lotto legal in SA? Lotto betting online

7 September 2020 | ,

Lotto or lottery as a concept is entirely legal in South Africa, but this raises another question. Is online lotto legal in the country? The answer however depends on the context in which the lottery is offered. Participation in online lotteries, whether domestic or international, through locally licensed bookmakers is legal. This is because these are a form of betting offered by the bookmaker under their sports betting license. Overall online lotto in its traditional form, where participants purchase tickets to enter the lottery draw, is currently illegal.

Under South African law and per the Lotteries Act, a lottery is defined as a competition for distributing prizes by lot. Specifically such that the Minister (of Trade and Industry) may by notice in the Gazette declare to be a lottery.

National Lotteries Commission

Firstly the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) regulates lotteries in South Africa. This includes the National Lottery, Sports Pools and also other lotteries. Read more on the different types of lotteries available in South Africa below. Further, any type of lottery run in the country, must be registered with the NLC to operate within the law. The NLC is also the only license holder and National Lottery Regulator in South Africa. Additionally as part of the NLC’s mission, they provide registered Non-Profit Organizations with fund raising avenues for established projects. Thus to improve the everyday lives of under privileged or ordinary South Africans. The National Lotteries Board was consequently established under the Lotteries Act No 57 of 1997. It also brought forth the establishment of the NLC, under the Lotteries Amendment Act No 32 of 2013. Explore the background and mission of the NLC as a lotteries regulator in South Africa.

Types of lotteries in South Africa

  • The National Lottery
  • Private Lotteries
  • Sports Pools
  • Raffles
  • Promotional Competitions
  • Society Lotteries

Functions of the NLC

  • Advising the Minister of Trade and Industry on issuance of the National Lottery.
  • Ensuring the operation of the National Lottery and other lotteries according to conventionally accepted standards of behavior or morals.
  • Protection of interests of participants in the National Lottery.
  • Ensure maximum net proceeds of the National Lottery.
  • Administer and hold in trust the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF).
  • Police, regulate and monitor accompanying exempt entertainment, any competition as defined under section 54, society and private lotteries.
  • Advise the Minister of Trade and Industry on the contribution and allocation of monetary percentages under section 26(3).
  • Advising the Minister on the intended result of lotteries and supporting legislation.
  • Advise to the Minister on the establishment and implementation of a social responsibility program as it relates to lotteries.

General guidelines for the running of private lotteries in South Africa

  • A single ticket value may not exceed R10.
  • The combined ticket sale value for a single lottery may not exceed R10,000.
  • The total lottery prize pool may not exceed R10,000.
  • Limiting of advertising to the club or sports premises running the lottery, participants residence or place of work and on the actual lottery tickets.
  • The sale and purchase of tickets in person as opposed to distribution by post.
  • Due authorization in writing by a government body to lottery organizers, who have to be members of the club or society, to operate the lottery.
  • Management fees or expense allowances may not be deducted from proceeds of lotteries, the only allowable expense deduction from the amount raised by the running of the lottery, is the printing of the tickets, notices and stationery.
  • Using all income in its entirety for prizes or dividing between the club fund and prizes.
  • The running of maximum 12 lotteries per annum by any residential entity, workplace or club.

What about online lottery participation in South Africa?

Overall online lottery participation is becoming more popular in the country. But what makes online lotto legal? This is mostly down to the availability of locally licensed online bookmakers offering entry to popular local and international lotteries. It therefore works by creating bets against these lotteries and you have the opportunity to take part through lotto betting. Participation in international lotteries in this way, is therefore totally legal.

How it works for international lotteries

But how can prizes in these international lotteries be guaranteed? Well, the model is slightly different to that of a traditional lottery ticket purchase. Several lotteries throughout the world, require you to be a resident in the country running the lottery. Two ways exist in overcoming this challenge. One way is for the bookmaker to take out insurance against possible wins. Non-winning bets then fund the insurance premiums required to guarantee usually the larger winning payments. Paying smaller wins out of pocket helps in reducing insurance premiums.

Some bookmakers offering lotto bets have local offices in countries with their own lotteries. Since they have local presence, they can purchase physical lottery tickets in the country’s locally run lotteries. Meaning that drawing your chosen numbers, will see the prize claimed from the actual lottery and paid out to you.

Where can I play lotto online?

In conclusion, there are a few clever tricks of the trade making online lotto legal. While not all South African licensed bookmakers offer lotto betting, we have compiled a list of those that do. Have a look at our best bookmakers for playing lotto online and be on your way to taking part for huge international prizes.

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