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Major Canadian Lotteries Extend Ticket Expiry Dates
Four of the largest lottery corporations in Canada all announced this week that they will extend the amount of time allowed for winning players to claim their prizes. This is all a result of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shutdowns of lottery claims offices and many retailers.
Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, Loto-Quebec, Atlantic Lottery Corporation, and British Columbia Lottery Corporation all extended expiry dates on tickets by six months. The members of the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation used the same dates per a mutual agreement: March 17, 2020 through September 17, 2020.
Atlantic Lottery Extension
The August 7 press release announced an additional six months added to the expiry dates of winning lottery tickets. Since Atlantic Lottery temporarily closed its prize claim offices in mid-March in compliance with government and health officials, it has been much more difficult for many lotto winners to claim their prizes.
Though lottery winners can usually claim their winnings for one year from the date of the draw, ALC decided to add another six months. This applies for all draw-based games and Scratch’N Win tickets set to expire between March 17 and September 17.
British Columbia Lottery Extension
On the same day and with the same parameters, BCLC also added six months – 183 days – to the claim dates for lotto ticket prize winnings.
In addition to draw-based games, the extension applies also to Scratch & Win tickets. The draw games at the national level are Lotto 6/49, Lotto Max, and Daily Grand. The BC-specific games are Keno, BC/49, BC 50/50, Poker Lotto, and Pacific Hold’em Poker Lotto.
Players in Quebec also now have an extended expiry window for claiming winning draw-based lottery tickets and sports betting tickets.
As for instant tickets, the press release from Loto-Quebec is not specific. The website doesn’t specify expiry date changes for instant games or for Quebec-centric games like Quebec 49, but those will also likely be extended as well.
Ontario Lottery and Gaming also released the same message as the others this week, noting that draw games typically offer one year for claiming a prize, but now they will offer an additional six months.
The extension applies to all tickets sold through OLG lottery terminals, on PlayOLG.ca, and instant tickets sold by any retailers.
OLG also made another announcement, increasing the limit for mail-in prize claims to $49,999.90. The previous amount for mail-in redemptions was $9,999.90, so it is now increased by $40,000. This will allow those employees of OLG still working during the shutdown to verify and process winning tickets. It will reduce the backup that is likely to happen when retailers and prize centres reopen.
Amounts over $50,000 will need to be held until the prize centre reopens, as those cannot be processed by mail due to the requirement of face-to-face interviews. The winners can call OLG for additional guidance, however.
The reason that the window for lotto ticket redemption extensions is so long is that there is no way to predict when lottery centres will reopen. There is no official date set by any officials because the pandemic is too unpredictable.
As of April 8, Canada recorded more than 19,200 positive cases of COVID-19, with the highest numbers coming from Quebec and then Ontario. And there have been more than 430 deaths. However, fewer than 362,000 people have been tested thus far and there is no sign of a nationwide slowdown in positive cases yet.
This means that all non-essential businesses – casinos and lotto prize centres included – will remain closed for the foreseeable future.
Lottery operators are currently promoting their online lottery options.