Lottery insiders won nearly twice as much as first thought, audit shows

The long running discussion on why Ontario Lottery "insiders" seem to win a disproportionately high number of prizes took another turn this week with the release of an independent report from auditors Deloitte & Touche that showed a higher incidence of insider wins than had previously been estimated.

The Toronto Star has been following the issue over the past 2 years since the remarkable good fortune of ticket sellers and other "insiders" first surfaced, triggering audits and investigations. The newspaper reported this week that lottery retailers, employees and their families took home $198 million in prizes in the past 13 years, nearly twice the amount previously estimated by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

The winnings represent 3.4 percent of the total prizes claimed in that period, said OLG CEO Kelly McDougald at a news conference to announce the findings of the audit.

The Crown corporation, which oversees Ontario's lotteries, slots and casinos, had originally assessed insider winnings at $106 million, or 1.7 percent, she said.

The dramatic jump is due in part to the corporation's broadened definition of "insiders," which now includes family members and those living with OLG employees or lottery retailers, McDougald said.

The audit also counted data that had been excluded in the initial tally.

The numbers were part of a historical analysis of 13 years of data — from July 1, 1995 to June 30, 2008 — performed by Deloitte & Touche to help the OLG understand and crack down on insider fraud. The $750 000 study took five months, and is believed to be the largest analysis of its kind published by a lottery corporation anywhere in the world.

Two years ago Ontario's Ombudsman Andre Marin investigated and then released a scathing report denouncing the OLG's lax security measures and calling for increased protection for lottery players. His reported resulted in a management shake-up and improved anti-fraud measures.

McDougald claimed that the Deloitte & Touche audit shows the corporation has been successful in reducing fraud in the two years since the ombudsman's report. Among the precautions is a $3 million system to keep the data updated in real time, allowing it to flag unusual patterns and shut down the related lottery terminals.

McDougald said the entire database, which contains some 200 billion pieces of data, will be turned over to Ontario Provincial Police, though she would not say whether additional charges would be laid.

"It's not our job to say whether it's fraud, but it is our job to identify cases... and signal them to the police, " she said.

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