New Zealand’s national lottery Lotto NZ has announced that it will suspend in-store sales of its tickets and games during the country’s four-week lockdown.
Retail sales were suspended from 11:59PM on 27 March, with all stores to remain shut until Alert Level 4 has been lifted. This includes Lotto NZ counters in pharmacies, dairies, petrol stations and supermarkets, which will remain open for essential services only.
The implementation of Alert Level 4 to slow the spread of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in the country was announced last week, and sees all indoor and outdoor public gatherings banned, alongside all non-essential businesses.
This has already seen all of New Zealand’s TAB-branded retail betting shops closed, and all horse racing suspended until 21 April. Online wagering will continue, via the TAB website.
Customers will also still be able to purchase Lotto NZ tickets online during this period, to ensure that it can continue to raise funds for good causes during the lockdown. The lottery donates all profits to more than 3,000 good causes across New Zealand, as well as providing significant funding for Sport New Zealand, the New Zealand Film Commission and national arts development body Creative New Zealand.
“By operating online during the lockdown period we can continue to provide funding to New Zealand communities, many of which will need it now more than ever,” Lotto NZ chief executive Chris Lyman explained.
“We know some of our customers will be disappointed they won’t be able to purchase tickets in-store during Alert Level 4, but like other businesses we have had to adapt during these unprecedented times,” he added.
As a result of the lockdown, the lottery will also be unable to conduct live Lotto draws, and will instead conduct computer generated draws for Lotto, Powerball and Strike, monitored by Audit New Zealand.
Lyman said Lotto NZ has a “well-tested and sophisticated computer generated draw process” that is already used daily for its Keno and Bullseye games. This technology was previously used for a Lotto draw held on 26 October last year, after a fire at the Sky City Convention Centre made it impossible to hold an in-studio draw.
“The most important thing is that we follow the latest Government advice on Covid-19 to prevent face to face contact and keep our customers and retailers safe,” he said in conclusion. “Never has there been such an important time for Kiwis to help other Kiwis.”