How perverse is it that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation – which owes its lottery ticket monopoly to something called “social responsibility” – has been found acting irresponsibly yet again.
Indeed, back in 2007, the OLG was the subject of the most scathing Ontario Ombudsman’s report (“A Game of Trust”) in the history of ombudsman reports. In essence, the ombudsman found that “insider wins” were being routinely accommodated in which rightful lottery winners were being denied their prizes thanks to the OLG turning a blind eye to dishonest lottery retailers claiming big prizes on a regular basis. Shameful.
But apparently, it’s very hard to teach a scandal-plagued crown corporation to behave in an ethical, moral, and even lawful way.
The latest scandal? Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk notes that Ontarians are being conned into buying scratch tickets in which they are unaware that all the major jackpots have already been claimed. For example, perhaps a scratch ticket offers five prizes of $75,000, but when all five of those jackpots are won, instead of recalling the remaining tickets (as is the practice in several other jurisdictions) the OLG still allows those tickets to be sold – even though there is a 0.0% chance of ticket purchasers snagging a major jackpot!
Stated Lysyk in her report: “We noted that OLG is not ensuring that Ontarians are aware of whether any top instant scratch ticket prizes are still available at the time of purchase… previous consumer research conducted by OLG showed that a prize amount of $100,000 or greater was considered by the public to be a life-changing amount, and that consumers were less likely to purchase instant scratch tickets once all top prizes had been claimed.”
In response, the OLG released a statement that was devoid of an apology or any kind of contrition. It read: “OLG’s instant ticket practices are consistent with other lottery jurisdictions in Canada. OLG is committed to openness and transparency in the sale of its products and encourages customers to contact us should they have any questions or concerns.”
Allowing tickets to be sold when there are no major jackpots left to be claimed is not “transparency.” It’s more like bait and switch.
Our advice: go online or consult a retailer to see what (if any) major jackpots remain to be won with any scratch lottery ticket game. Because the odds of the OLG itself doing the right thing – in this case, withdrawing the remaining tickets of a game in which all major prizes have been claimed – would likely make the most reckless gambler cringe…