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Lotteries and Gaming Centres Begin Reopenings After Covid
Canada seems to have put the worst of the coronavirus pandemic behind it. The Canadian government shut down all nonessential businesses in March and kept them closed – with most people quarantined in their homes – for several months. And as business owners begin to peek out from behind their sanitized existence, unlock their doors, and welcome customers back, they are doing so carefully. Health and government officials are leading the way to a slow and safe reopening.
As this happens, lotteries are seeing their retailers begin to reopen. In turn, the lotteries are reopening their prize centers, and charitable organizations associated with lotteries are returning to busy days as well.
OLG Uses a Phased Approach
In April, as it became apparent that Covid-19 was going to be more of a problem than anticipated, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation was one of many lottery operators that extended the expiry dates on its tickets by six months. It applied to all tickets sold at OLG lottery terminals, instant ticket retailers, and even online at PlayOLG.ca.
One month ago, OLG announced that anyone holding a winning ticket worth $50,000 or more would be able to claim their money at the OLG Prize Centre in Toronto, though they had to make appointments to do so. Those had been the tickets unredeemable by mail throughout the pandemic.
After that, OLG representatives contacted players with tickets worth $10,000 or more to set appointments with them. However, anyone with tickets worth $50,000 or less could still submit their tickets by mail for redemption.
In mid-July, OLG announced that anyone holding a winning ticket of $10,000 or more could call to arrange their own appointments.
If Ontario is able to keep its Covid-19 numbers low, there could be another announcement in the near future for more prize winners to redeem their tickets in person.
Meanwhile, charitable gaming centers and casinos in Ontario began reopening about two weeks ago per local coronavirus numbers and medical guidance. The third stage of the process included casinos and gaming centres but with limited capacity and no table games.
Loto-Quebec Light on Details
When Loto-Quebec shut down its casinos and prize claim centres, it did so with little information on its website. Some players found out about the claim extension through other Canadian lottery news releases. The same is happening regarding reopening, especially for lottery claims.
The Quebec casinos opened one by one, starting with Hilton Lac-Leamy on July 13 and opening one per week through August 3. The VLT and Kinzo network opened on July 7, and bingo spots reopened days before that. All, however, required online reservations to ensure limited capacity and the ability to enforce social distancing guidelines.
In-store lottery ticket sales have been resuming per each retailer’s individual reopening guidelines. There are no specifications on the website regarding ticket redemption.
Loto-Quebec did, however, note that the closures for more than three months resulted in a significant revenue decrease, so operations at various establishments will change. There will be temporary layoffs in casinos and gaming halls, some employee contract cancellations, and temporary work week reductions. In addition, a hiring freeze and management salary freeze is in place indefinitely.
AGLC Gets Creative with Charity
Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis (AGLC) understands that the loss of revenue in recent months amounted to much less money raised for charitable organizations around Alberta. Since the reopenings are slow and not guaranteed to last, the AGLC decided to come up with other ways to raise funds.
First, charitable organizations are now allowed to sell 50/50 tickets to adults online and in person. This is for large raffles and should help increase proceeds that will fund programs and services across Alberta.
AGLC CEO Alain Maisonneuve noted that the AGLC issued more than 14,000 raffle licenses in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. This raised more than $170 million. The Calgary Flames Foundation raised $3.8 million alone from their raffles.
Second, charities had been forced to use random number generators for raffles in which total ticket sales exceeded $1 million. In light of the need to be creative and generous, the AGLC lowered that amount to $100,000 for the undetermined future.
OCGA Aims to Help
The Ontario Charitable Gaming Association (OCGA) noted that mid-July took most gaming centres in the region to Stage 3, which meant reopening with caution. There were physical distancing requirements, capacity limitations, and sanitizing protocols with which each charitable gaming center must abide.
OCGA simply offered its communication and support to help funds flow to charities in the region as quickly as possible.