28 Mar 2020

New Zealand lockdown: Lotto draws continue during alert level 4

8:10 am on 28 March 2020

Lotto phone lines are being flooded with calls as players struggle to buy tickets with shop sales closed, and less sales could mean smaller prizes.

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A computer will draw the winning numbers for Lotto, Powerball, and Strike during the lockdown. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

During the national level 4 shut-down, Lotto shops and Lotto counters in other stores have all been closed, even if the store itself remains open. But draws are continuing, and many players who would buy their ticket in person have been rushing to set up an account over the phone or online.

Live televised draws have also stopped this week, to allow employees to stay home during the shut down. A computer will draw the winning numbers for Lotto, Powerball and Strike while the country is at alert level 4 - the same way Keno and Bullseye were already drawn.

Until now about 75 percent of tickets were sold in stores, according to Lotto NZ head of communications Marie Winfield.

"It's likely we will definitely see a drop in sales - it's too early to say exactly what that is," Winfield said.

"And the amount we can offer for a jackpot is determined by ticket sales - we take it one draw at a time. Once we get a clearer idea of how the next couple of draws play out, then we'll be able to really clarify what that means in terms of our jackpot amounts."

Winfield said workers helping with registrations by phone and online had been inundated with demand this week.

"We have a lot of people registering, and our call centre volumes are extremely high," she said.

"We do apologise to those people who are struggling to get through to us; you can register online yourself, but if you want to get through to our team it is proving to be a bit tricky at the moment.

"This is a big change for people, so we know sales are likely to be lower than what we would normally see. But without a doubt we're about to see a lot more people playing online than ever before."

Because Lotto profits all go to "good causes", the Minister of Internal Affairs has allowed Lotto to continue operating during the lockdown as "it generates essential funding for New Zealand communities", Winfield said.

"Lotto NZ funding is needed throughout Aotearoa now more than ever."

All computerised Lotto draws are still scrutinised by Audit New Zealand.