Lotto (Gallo Images)

The companies had all purchased the request for proposal document, for R50,000 each, which outlined the procedure to bid for the contract, spokesman Sershan Naidoo said.

"All parties in possession of the request for proposal document will access additional information and communicate with the NLB through the secure and access-controlled virtual data room," Naidoo said.

Interested parties would then submit their "fit and proper" details and a declaration of interest by the end of the month.

Completed applications had to be submitted by the end of November, with an accompanying non-refundable fee of R2.5 million. The successful bidder would be announced at the end of August 2014.

The operator contract, valued at R40 billion, would commence on June 1 2015 for seven years.

The licence for current operator, Gidani, would expire at the end of May 2015.

"The focus for the third licence period is a more African lottery that responds to our government's call to address localisation issues," NLB chairman Alfred Nevhutanda said.

"Bidding companies have to demonstrate a commitment to align their operations to the procurement act, information technology regulations, broad based black economic empowerment principles, and to empower local businesses by expanding the lottery footprint."

Applicants were encouraged to use state-owned enterprises such as the government printer and Telkom in operations.