Last week, Ontario’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk released her report on the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, which is the agency responsible for conducting legal lottery and gambling in the province. Some of her findings claim that when buying scratch tickets Ontarians may not be aware when all the top prizes for the respective game have already been claimed.
In the said report on OLG’s activities, the AG claims that from April 2018 to June 2022, over 88% of all scratch tickets that were printed were sold. Thus, generating net sales of approximately CA$6.4 billion for the OLG. It should also be mentioned that scratch tickets are delivered to retailers across the province in packs of approximately 10 copies.
Findings and Suggestions
Ms. Lysyk remarks in her report that the Crown is not making sure that Ontarians are aware of whether any of the top scratch ticket prizes are available at the time of purchase of open packets. Previous OLG report suggests that a prize of over CA$100,000 or more was considered by the public to be life-changing and that players were less likely to buy a ticket for a game where top prizes were won.
OLG says that games with top prizes of CA$100,000 or more are removed once the biggest windfalls are claimed. However, tickets with top prizing under CA$100,000 may continue to sell with full disclosure of remaining prizes. The Crown announces the number of remaining prizes for instant games on its website, and players can also ask lottery retailers, or the OLG directly about them.
In the report, Ms. Lysyk explains that the OLG has a process to have retailers remove remaining tickets when all top prizes are claimed, but there are no protocols to ensure that the retailers will stop selling tickets from the pack. According to the report, the process of retailers reconciling tickets could take up to six months.
That is why the AG advises the OLG to introduce a process to track scratch tickets more closely by introducing bar codes that retailers will be mandated to scan for inventory tracking purposes. Then the Crown should disable bar codes for games when all top prizes are won, to prevent retailers from selling those tickets to the public.
Other Critiques from the Report
The Auditor General’s report also found some additional issues with OLG’s operations. For instance, she criticizes the OLG for selecting Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment as the operator of Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara in 2019. According to the report, the gaming company’s bid was not the best possible fit for the required criteria back then.
Further findings from Ms. Lysyk’s report also review OLG’s online gaming services. She discovers that online sports betting on OLG’s platform has increased exponentially over recent years. However, she noted that most of the players do not take advantage of the website’s many responsible gambling features, such as time and spending limits.
Source: Rocca, Ryan “Ontarians may be buying scratch tickets unaware all top prizes already claimed: AG” GlobalNews, December 5, 2022