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Lotto Powerball $50 million: Lotto NZ reveals whether lockdown will affect the draw

Consumer affairs reporter, NZ Herald

Tomorrow night’s must-be-won $50 million Powerball draw will go ahead regardless of the Covid-19 alert level, Lotto NZ says.

However, if any regions or the entire country enter a level 4 lockdown, tickets for the potentially record-breaking draw will be sold online only.

If there are no first division winners tomorrow, the entire jackpot will roll down to the next division until the prize is struck.

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If the prize is won by a single ticket holder, it will be the largest Powerball prize win in Lotto NZ history, beating the current record of $44.1m won in 2016.

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If there is more than one winner in the division, the jackpot will be shared equally among all of them.

In February, another $50m must-be-won draw was split between two winners who each pocketed $25.1m.

The only way to buy tickets at alert level 4 is on the Lotto NZ app or at MyLotto.co.nz.

Lotto NZ would also be forced to draw the prize remotely off-air instead of in the TVNZ studios, which it is allowed to do at alert level 3.

“It can go ahead because people can buy online, they just have to really not wait until the last minute,” Lotto NZ head of communications Marie Winfield said.

Since the previous lockdown, the number of people playing Lotto NZ online has increased by 33 per cent, which has led to technological problems.

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The app and website both crashed on Thursday because of the number of people trying to check their tickets after Wednesday’s $43m draw.

Winfield asked New Zealanders not to fluff around and get in before the mad rush tomorrow: “We don’t want anyone to miss out,” she said.

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More than 1.9 million tickets were sold for the previous $50m must-be-won Powerball jackpot in February, which was won by two players and split evenly.

Your chances of winning Powerball – one in 38 million – are less likely than you being struck by lightning – one in 280,000 – on your way to buy the ticket.

The odds of winning a must-be-won draw are no different than normal, but the average amount you might win has gone up.

“The odds of winning Powerball haven’t changed but the amount you will win ‘on average’ has gone up,” University of Otago statistician Dr Matthew Parry said in February.

“This is because the prize pool has gone up, but also if Powerball isn’t struck, there will be more money for prizes in the lower divisions.”

Lotto NZ’s previous must-be-won draws

• In 2008, five players split the jackpot and won $6.1 million each.
• In 2011, two players split the jackpot and won $17.4 million each.
• In 2013, one player from Auckland won $33.1 million.
• In July 2016, three players split the jackpot and won $13.3 million each.
• In November 2016 one player from Auckland won $44.1 million.
• In February 2020, two players from Auckland and Hawke’s Bay split the historic $50 million jackpot, winning $25.1 million each.

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Largest Powerball wins by an individual in Lotto NZ history

• $44.1 million in Nov 2016, at Dairy Flat Food Mart and Liquor.
• $33.1 million in Sep 2013, at One Step Ahead.
• $30.2 million in Sep 2017, at Richmond Superette.
• $28.7 million in Oct 2010, Mobil Papakura.
• $27 million in May 2017, Martina Four Square.

Tomorrow night's draw is a whopping $50 million and must be won.

Lotto NZ Makes Significant Investment In MyLotto Upgrade

Lotto NZ has work underway to upgrade the MyLotto website and app, which is due to be completed by early 2021.

The significant project has been underway since 2019 and involves a $25 million technology investment, says Lotto NZ Chief Executive Chris Lyman.

“To support the move to online play, and the big increase in the number of people playing online, Lotto NZ is making a substantial investment in the upgrade of MyLotto. The current website is ageing, and the upgrade is required to meet higher demand online.

“While this work is underway we have been making interim improvements. However, regrettably there have been some issues on MyLotto. This has in turn resulted in some pretty poor customer experiences, and for that I sincerely apologise.”

The work to upgrade MyLotto will ensure the back-end processes are more robust, and able to deal with higher traffic on the site. Lotto NZ is also planning a full replacement of its gaming system in 2024.

“Planning is underway for further work in 2024 to replace our entire gaming system. The timing and costs are still being worked through, however this work will cover a full replacement of the back-end gaming system that supports MyLotto, and also includes our terminals in retail stores.”

Mr Lyman made assurances that the integrity of Lotto NZ’s games have not been impacted by the recent issues on MyLotto.

“While we have had some issues with slow processing speeds, and poor customer experience, I can provide absolute assurance that the integrity of our games have not been impacted,” Mr Lyman says.

Lotto NZ has seen a surge in online players since March, with the number of people playing online increasing by 33%.

“We have significantly more people buying tickets online now than ever before. Nearly 200,000 people have registered to play online since 25 March – to put this into perspective, this is the number of new online players we would expect over a two-year period, not four months.

“This week alone 32,000 people have registered to play online, with around half of those from the Auckland region.”

Prior to the lockdown in March, 25% of Lotto NZ’s sales were online and 75% were in-store.

“For last night’s $50 million draw around 40% of sales were online. We sold around 2.5 million tickets for last night’s draw, and over a million of those were online. This is the most tickets we have ever sold online. This slowed down our processing significantly, and unfortunately led to delays.”

Mr Lyman says the reason why MyLotto cannot open until later today is because all of the winning tickets need to be processed first.

“What’s really important is that we pay our winners their prizes – and there are a lot of winners! In fact we’ve never had so many. Not only did 10 players share the $50 million prize, but hundreds of thousands of other people won prizes across all of our divisions,” he says.

Lotto NZ has work underway to upgrade the MyLotto website and app, which is due to be completed by early 2021. The significant project has been underway since 2019 and involves a $25 million technology investment, says Lotto NZ Chief Executive Chris …