Chaos reigns as Powerball-mad Aussies crash Lottoland website

lottoland-australia-website-crash-powerballAustralians driven mad by Powerball fever crashed Lottoland’s website trying to buy tickets for Wednesday’s night’s record $1.5b prize draw.

Lottoland, which only just launched its Australian site after receiving a license from the Northern Territory Racing Commission, reportedly signed up 107k members this week. The ensuing frenzy to win the largest jackpot prize in world history ultimately proved too much for Lottoland’s website.

There were undoubtedly cries of anguish and rending of clothing across Australia as punters logged on to only to find a simple block of text expressing sorrow for the technical difficulties.

Luke Brill, managing director of Lottoland’s Aussie operations, told the Sydney Morning Herald that the response to the site’s launch has “blown all our expectations out of the window … We’re just hoping someone from Australia wins it.”

The frenzy is all the more impressive given the fact that Aussies must pay A$10.50 for a shot at winning the Powerball prize, a significant premium over the ticket’s $2 face value. But Aussies previously had zero access to international lotteries unless they physically traveled to countries in which the draws took place.

Lottoland doesn’t actually sell players tickets to these draws; instead, players place a bet on the outcome of the draw. Lottoland guarantees that players who match the winning numbers will receive the same prize as if they’d purchased an actual Powerball ticket, minus the same taxes a Yank would pay.

Lottoland has taken out insurance with a number of companies, including Lloyd’s of London, to cover the cost of paying out a mega-jackpot. But something tells us these companies may not have anticipated the new mega-mega-jackpots that became more likely after Powerball made the jackpots tougher to win last fall, thereby ensuring more frequent rollovers.

Whether or not a Lottoland player wins Wednesday’s big prize, the company’s auspicious Aussie debut spells trouble for domestic lottery firms like Tatts Group, whose own jackpots now look comparatively puny. As this week has demonstrated both in Australia and America, people will line up for hours in the blazing sun or freezing cold for a 1-in-292m shot at $1.5b, but they can’t be arsed to get off the couch when the equally unattainable prize a mere $10m.

CLSA gaming analyst Sacha Krien told the Australian Financial Review that Tatts and the state governments with which it holds monopoly licenses could seek to override Lottoland’s NT license. Some states and domestic betting operators have made similar grumbles about NT-licensed online betting operators not kicking back tax revenue to the states in which the punters reside.