Lottotech, the operator of Mauritius’ national lottery Loto, has announced that it will suspend operations until further notice, as a result of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The operator said that the prize draw held on Saturday 21 March would be the last for the time being, while its retail network would also cease paying out prizes in order to protect players and ticket sellers.
Tickets for future draws would remain valid, Lottotech added, with players advised to hold onto them until draws are resumed.
The decision was taken after discussions with the island’s gambling regulator, the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA), with talks ongoing about alternative strategies to resume activities. Lottotech currently only operates in the retail sector.
Lottotech becomes the second national lottery operator to shut down prize draws, after Spain’s Sociedad Estatal Loterías y Apuestas del Estado (SELAE) suspended ticket sales last week.
The news came after the island went into lockdown on 20 March, before announcing its first death from the virus a day later. This individual was just the third to die from Covid-19 in sub-Saharan Africa.
As of 22 March, there were 18 confirmed cases on the island, which has now set an 8PM daily curfew for citizens.
In related news, Lottotech reported a 30.5% year-on-year increase in revenue for the 12 months to 31 December, 2019. Revenue for the year amounted to MUR1.36bn (£29.5m/€31.9m/$34.4m), with an operating profit of MUR185.7m – up 39.6% – left after costs were stripped out.
The business generated a further MUR3.1m in finance income, offset by MUR1.3m in financial costs, for a pre-tax profit of MUR187.5m, up 40.5% year-on-year.
After paying out MUR31.8m in income tax, its net profit for 2019 was up 41.7% to MUR155.7m.