Monday, September 14, 2009

Changes to lottery rules in Ontario -- not far enough

It doesn't solve the whole problem of "insider wins," but the decision coming today to forbid lottery retailers in Ontario from buying tickets at their own stores is a step in the right direction. However, there also has to be greater surveillance, including random "sting" operations like in California (for example, a series of $1000 instant lose tickets are printed and "secret shoppers" are sent in to see if suspect retailers actually inform the customer of the win and its size). This sorts out the honest retailers (the vast majority, I should point out) from the crooked ones.

In many States, "insiders" are shut out of the game all together. They can't bet anywhere -- not their own stores or anywhere else in the state (although it doesn't stop them from buying out of state, especially for the multi-state super games); or if they do win they have to donate the money to charity. But in exchange, they get much bigger payouts in case of a "major win" from a ticket purchased at their outlet -- a 1% commission on jackpots over a certain amount upon the ticket's redemption. Maybe that's what needs to be done here. Seriously; when the corner store in my former neighbourhood sold a $2 million winner and the owner of the store told me she only got $2000 as a thank you, I thought she was the one getting ripped off.

She should have gotten ten times that.

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