New Procedures in Canadian Lotteries Inspire Customer Confidence
Ever since the Ontario lottery scandal of 2007 the Canadian lottery corporations have been doubling and tripling their efforts to ensure that players will enjoy a safe and fair lottery experience.
The scandal, which triggered ticket recalls, the firing of some OLG executives and the demotion of others, resulted in a massive police investigation which involved allegations of fraud and suspicious insider wins.
CBC broke the scandal in late 2006 when they reported on the ordeal of Bob Edmonds whose winning $250,000 Encore ticket was stolen by a clerk at the store that he went to in order to have the ticket checked. The major thrust of the scandal was the fact that OLG had ignored Edmonds’ repeated inquiries after the clerk was named the rightful winner. Even after the clerk was arrested for fraud, OLG refused to return Edmond’s winnings, When an Ontario judge ordered that OLG pay Edmonds, OLG forced him to sign a confidentiality agreement in an attempt to cover up the scandal.
Thanks to CBC reporting news of the event, as well as another incident involving a $5.7 million payout that was grabbed by a convenience store owner, was made public. More red flags have since been raised by the information that Ontario store owners and their families collected approximately $100 million in lottery payouts in the years 1999 through 2006 — a statistic that a Toronto statistician calls “one in a trillion trillion trillion.” Tens of millions in fraudulent claims were alleged to have been ignored by the OLG
In the ensuring years all Canadian gaming corporations have taken new security measures designed to protect lottery customers. These include customer-facing displayers during ticket checks, the sounding of music and bells when a winning ticket has been identified and more. Lottery retailers also encourage players to sign their tickets (a signature box is now displayed on the front of all on-line lottery tickets) and the collection of lottery prizes by lottery retailers and their families is restricted or severely limited in all locations.
Some of the actions taken to secure lottery products in the various provinces include:
The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) has developed the "Player First" program, a comprehensive response to recommendations made in 23 recommendations for improvements to ticket validation and player protection by the provincial Ombudsman. In many instances, BCLC has even gone further.
- BCLC recommends that every ticket-holder sign the back of his lottery ticket which will identify the individual as the rightful owner of the ticket.
- When a ticket is validated, if the ticket is a winner the validation terminal plays a recognizable jingle which has been made louder than it was previously.
- Display monitors always face the customer.
- Retailers must return the validation slip, along with the winning ticket, after validation — the winning ticket must be stamped "Paid by Lottery Retailer".
- Players can check their own tickets at self-check terminals, available in all lottery retail locations
- All BCLC retailers are trained and tested to ensure that they, and their employees, demonstrate familiarity with all aspects of the retailer code of conduct.
- Retailers cannot play, purchase or validate their own lottery tickets at their place of work. If they win a prize by playing at another location prize payout staff and security personnel will investigate their prize claim.
- A mystery shopper program assesses service levels to confirm that retailers are adhering to procedures.
- The security investigative team of the BCLC operates in an expanded mode.
- Retailers who do not adhere to the regulations are suspended, and then terminated, as lottery product suppliers.
The Atlantic Lottery Corporation discovered that retail-owners in the Atlantic provinces were winning at a higher rate than would be statistically expected. The Customer Confidence Program was launched to strengthen player protection and verification procedures.
- Measures were introduced to provide players with the tools they need to maintain better control of their tickets. These include signing every ticket upon purchase
- New technology and business procedures have been introduced which include a requirement that all tickets be signed before validation by retailers, stamping of winning tickets as paid, a new signature line on the front of all tickets and returning a redesigned validation slip with the ticket to the player.
- Customer claim process, both at the ALC head office and banking outlets, has been overhauled to streamline claims.
- Lottery terminals make a different sound when a lottery ticket being verified is identified as a winner.
- Self-service checkers, installed at retail locations around the Atlantic region, allow lottery ticket owners to determine whether their ticket is a winner.
In Ontario, where the move for better and more transparent lottery procedures started, the OLG has implemented 60 recommendations that were made by Ontario's Ombudsman and KPMG.
- State-of-the-art technology has been introduced, including 8,900 ticket checkers which allows lottery players to check their own tickets.
- The Prize Integrity Program has been implemented as a method that protects customers, improves customer service and provides players with clear and concise information regarding the status of their tickets.
- A Terminal Freeze function was introduced in which all transactions at a terminal are suspended whenever a retailer validates a lottery ticket worth $10,000 or more. Transactions do not start up again until an OLG customer service representative speaks to the retailer and to the customer to determine ownership of the ticket.
- Lottery tickets have been redesigned. There is now a box that the player signs and retailers do not validate any ticket that has not been signed.
- Retailers provide validation receipts and return validated tickets to customers, regardless of whether the customer won a prize or not.
- Retailers tear through the bar code of a winning ticket before returning it.
- Display screens of validation machines are turned in a way in which the customer can view the screen. When a win occurs, winning jingles automatically play.
- Third-party inspectors visit
lottery retailers to ensure that all policies and procedures are being followed.