In our day and age of online shopping, it’s not surprising to see the Australian Lottery industry making the move to e-commerce and offering the alternative to the ye olde paper tickets. While many Australians have made a move to purchasing their Oz Lotto, Powerball and Saturday Lotto tickets over the internet, other people still ponder, “How can I play lotto online safely?”
It definitely is, if you are buying from the official lotto operators and accredited sales agents. As with any online shop, you need to look for trust cues, and foremost use your common sense.
This article helps you identify the difference between the official Australian Lotto retailer and an unauthorised lotto seller.
- Website quality. Professional websites undergo a Quality Assurance check of design, usability, grammar, and content. Look out for websites that have a large number of errors, spelling mistakes, or does not work correctly. Also, websites that feature a lot of advertisements around the page. Then you should check whether the business is a legitimate Lotto re-seller.
- Guaranteed Win. All Australian Lotto games are games of chance, and there is no legal or legitimate way to guarantee your chance of winning. We recommend you look for the data to back up their claim. If they cannot provide real workings out, then be careful about handing over your details.
- Government run National Lottery. There is no national lottery in Australia that is run by the Federal Government. While some of the lottery games like Oz Lotto and Powerball are national, the operators are licensed at a state level and include both state government-owned and private sector companies. If a website claims to be selling official Australian National Lottery tickets operated by the Australian Government then they are trying hard to sound legitimate when they are actually not.
- Safe & Secure Claims. Many logos and seals make statements of “100% safe and secure”, but do not provide details of their physical and digital security. Pictures and statements can be made by anyone. You should look for evidence that these websites have taken steps to ensure your transaction is secure. Signs of a secure site are:
a) A padlock symbol displays in the browser window frame. This is clickable and will display website’s full security details.
b) The web address of the site should begin with HTTPS://, where “S” stands for secure.
c) Latest browser versions will also display the address bar or site name owner in green.
- Social Media Presence. Most businesses nowadays establish social pages (eg. Facebook, Twitter) to reach their customers on their platform of choice & provide additional communication channels. If the website does not link to social pages, these pages have low followings and/or negative comments from the community, it may be a sign that the business is avoiding transparency and not wishing to communicate with its customers.
- International Lottery Affiliates, Agents or Resellers. There are no official, licensed or accredited overseas agents, operators or re-sellers for Australian lotteries. However (sadly) there are no laws preventing international non-affiliated 3rd parties from buying Australian lottery tickets in bulk, and then re-selling individually, provided there are no local laws restricting these types of operations. There are also no laws that would force these 3rd parties to pay out the prizes on re-sold tickets. Be careful if you purchase a ticket from an overseas website, where you do not have the protection of Australian laws to claim your win from the business.
- Contact Options. If the website only has an online contact phone and does not publish their email address or phone number, then you have reasons to be concerned. A legitimate business will offer customers multiple ways to contact them via registered mailing address and phone. Beware if the email address is a free webmail account (such as @gmail.com, @hotmail.com or yahoo.com)
- Customer Support overseas phone, limited support hours, voice mail or “dead” line. It is natural that a customer may want to contact the business with any questions or concerns prior to purchasing. We feel reassured speaking directly to a business representative, much more than via an online chat or email correspondence. A legitimate company selling goods or services will want their customers to contact them on a local or national customer support line and ensure staff are available during local business hours. Businesses that make it extremely inconvenient for the customers to reach them (including international toll numbers, no answer or voice mail with no return calls), may be avoiding customers contacting them altogether.
- Free Trial Offers. If a website is offering a one-month absolutely free trial of a lotto subscription service, then you need to ask how are they making money? While lottery re-sellers may have introductory offers for new customers, such as a bonus ticket or account credit, the general rule is – if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Read the Terms & Conditions carefully – you may find that the ‘free month’ offer has fine print attached to it, obligating you to pay $59.99 a month in fees and lock you in an ongoing subscription that is difficult to cancel.
- Weekly Automatic Re-Purchase Subscription. While legitimate online lottery websites may offer an option of repeat purchase or Auto Play, it is optional, and they offer an easy way for you to cancel the subscription at any time. Be careful of a website that locks their customers into a re-occurring payment cycle. Especially when it’s hard to cancel the subscription and taking at least 3-4 rounds of payments.
- Paid or Bonus Tools for increased chances of winning. Lottery is the game of chance. There are no tools or scientific analysis methods that can pick a guaranteed winning ticket or numbers for an additional cost. A note to say that odds calculators and number combination generators are not illegal, yet they also don’t guarantee you pick the winning numbers.
- Lack of Secure Payment Methods. If a website is not offering the commonly accepted online payment methods like Credit Card, PayPal, BPay, it’s a point of concern. The above mentioned can be tracked and retrieved back if necessary. They are considered secure payment methods. Payment methods commonly used by online scammers are money transfers like Western Union and direct bank deposits. These have no way to return the money once it’s been transferred.
- Commission on Winnings. If the lottery website states that it takes a certain share or commission of the winnings, it’s a no question scam. Winners should receive 100% of their prize money with agents never being entitled to any share. Plain and simple.
- Fees for Prize Processing. Look out if you’re asked to pay any type of fee. Some include insurance costs, bank fees or courier charges in order for your prize money to be processed or for the provider to undertake the prize claim process. This is another example of a scam. Official Australian lottery operators do not charge any fees for processing the prize claim or for the prize delivery.
- Instalment Payouts. Some lottery websites state in their Terms & Conditions, that prize payouts of over a certain amount (usually $5000 or larger), will be processed to the winner’s account in instalments over a certain period of time (usually quite lengthy periods of years, not months). In Australian Lotteries, the prize is paid out in one bulk payment, tax-free (although tax applies to any interest earned on winnings). There is a chance the operators received full payment, but are using the money to earn percent on a term deposit in a bank and are cashing up on your prize if a website only offers you annual instalments.
- No Proof of Purchase. When you purchase a legitimate Australian Lotto ticket on an authorised website, you receive an official entry confirmation – available in your account and emailed to you. If the website doesn’t offer you details of your ticket purchase, then be concerned that they did not purchase an official entry on your behalf. Alternatively, they are holding the paper ticket themselves.
Lottery scams have been around as long as lotteries themselves. While players are becoming smarter and more aware of the tricks and cons, scammers continue to develop new and inventive methods of relieving their unsuspected victims of their money. The trick is always to use common sense. Read up on the offer before you buy into it and always remember – if something looks too good to be true, it probably is!
Could you be Australia’s next millionaire? Buy your lotto tickets online now.