You can now play the Lotto through your bank account

FOR customers of one of the country's biggest banks playing the National Lottery will never be the same again.

Proclaimed a first in Africa, the lottery can now be played by cellphone, ATM machine or on the Internet.

This innovation was announced by Gidani chairperson and chief executive Bongani Khumalo and First National Bank mobile and transact solutions chief executive Len Pienaar in Midrand yesterday.

FNB is the first bank to partner with Gidani in this initiative but Khumalo said Gidani was in discussion with other banks.

"The use of banking channels will make it more convenient to play the lottery," Khumalo said. "It will also enhance player protection, responsible playing, privacy, accessibility, time economy and management of winnings and other related financial resources."

All customers using online banking and phone banking channels already have access to our products. Customers will be able to play at all approved ATMs by August 11.

But all the ATMs in the proximity of liquor outlets will be barred from this new innovation.

"The channels enable the operator to know the profile of each player immediately. That helps prohibit unlawful participation.

"For example, underage persons will be effectively excluded," Khumalo said.

"The challenge of excessive play will also be effectively handled."

He said this initiative would help grow lottery sales and revenue and thus grow the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund coffers.

About R2,25billion has been collected by the fund and close to 200 millionaires have been created, with R3,1billion in winnings being shared by players since Gidani started operating the lottery.

David Muller, FNB chief executive for legal services and compliance, said customers would have a daily limit of R1000 but have the option to reduce the amount.

"This is the first time you have an ID for a lotto ticket," he said.

"If you have an excessive gambler the family can report them and the bank will draft a letter telling the account holder that they are going overboard.

"We can stop their access. Most compulsive gamblers are known so we stop their access immediately."

Muller said the aim was not to have a few people play for large amounts but to have a large pool play a R3,50 or R5 ticket.