Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation instant scratch tickets under scrutiny

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

The CBC has raised new security concerns over the instant scratch tickets sold by the OLGC. CBC's the fifth estate reported in a special investigation on October 25 the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation's (OLGC) tickets are not being given to lottery winners and are claimed more often by the retailers who sell them averaging at CAN$500,000.

The report investigated several aspects of the lottery retail trade, including a report that tickets were stolen by the clerks of convenience stores. One reported case involved a convenience store clerk who, after checking the ticket bought by a customer who brought suit, said he did not win.

Retailers appeared to win prizes more often than the general public. However it also appeared that retailers were a core audience of the lottery games and due to that, statistically, could be expected to win more than the general public. The study found that the retailers were winning about 2.5 times more than the general audience and spending almost twice as much on their tickets. Retailers spent CAN$23.30 over the past four weeks. The average person spends CAN$12.30.

"We are here to make sure that all of our players have confidence in our process," OLG chief executive Duncan Brown said. "Lottery retailer means, in our broad definition, anybody that works for a lottery retailer or is related to a lottery retailer. That’s 140,000 people ... in Ontario....What was missing from the fifth estate’s numbers was the frequency of play by the retailers."

There were 30 complaints referring to the instant scratch tickets from 1999 to 2006. Only once ware charges laid by police. Nine cases had special investigations, winnings totaling at CAN$3,629.

Retailers could, in a process called "pin pricking," attempt to uncover codes printed on the instant scratch tickets under a latex coating that show which card is the winner.

In the wake of earlier allegations, OLG devices were installed for anyone who wanted to check their own tickets, for security reasons.

"Any time someone connected with the OLG tries to claim a prize we conduct a higher level of investigation than what we would do with somebody who is not associated with OLG. And this includes looking at the tickets very carefully, especially in the case of scratch tickets," Teresa Roncon, a spokeswoman for the OLGC said.

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