BUSINESS

Worst of both worlds — online lotteries combine dull with complicated

TAGs: Camelot, Linkelly, national lottery

Online-Lotteries-Dull-ComplicatedFrankly, we just don’t understand the appeal of lotteries, unless they’re the existential Deep Impact ‘if we draw your name, you get to live’ type. Of all the varied forms of gambling, lotteries seem to have the greatest appeal for the timid and/or mathematically challenged. They don’t require much outlay to participate, but the tradeoff is that they offer the absolute worst odds in the gambling universe. Seems the only way to make this situation any less appealing would be to make it overly complicated. Well…

Over in the UK, the venerable National Lottery has announced that players who purchase their tickets or scratch cards anywhere else but in the UK or the Isle of Man will no longer be able to collect (in the unlikely event that any winnings are owed). Under the old scheme, tickets could be purchased overseas via online accounts. Overseas players who have subscribed to the lottery via the direct debit route will still be eligible to participate, provided they were in the UK when they first set up the account, or when making any changes to their existing account (such as changing their ‘lucky’ numbers).

By the way, Camelot (who run the Lottery) has said it will not actually prevent people from purchasing ineligible tickets abroad, just from cashing any winners. Seems even Camelot believes a good chunk of its customers are thick as pigshit.

Meanwhile, over in South Africa, financial regulators are attempting to clarify the legal landscape vis à vis the country’s residents participating in foreign lotteries. Customers that had utilized Linkelly UK’s website to buy lottery tickets online were recently sent notices by the nation’s bankers, who informed them that this sort of behavior was not allowed.

But Linkelly pressed the issue, pointing out that by routing the players’ money through a local messenger service, the ticket purchases were technically not processed abroad, and thus the company was observing the letter of the Exchange Control Regulations. At first, South Africa Reserve Bank officials denied this was an okay dodge, but upon closer inspection, they amended their earlier statement, confessing that if indeed there was no cross-border flow of funds, their hands were tied. Now if only someone could tie the hands of the lottery players whenever they reached for their wallets…

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