Atlantic Lotto clears ticket sellers on allegation of winning more than they should

Canadian lottery scandals which included allegations of fraudulent behaviour by ticket sellers were in the media again this week as CBC reported that an investigation has found that Atlantic Lottery Corporation employees, lottery retailers and their families are not winning more than they should, although they are more likely to win big prizes than the general public.

A study published in April 2007 (see previous InfoPowa reports) had found storeowners were winning large prizes 10 times more often than statistically probable. In response, the ALC implemented a number of new measures, including an audible check to distinguish winning and losing tickets checked by ticket buyers at retailers.

A year after the new security measures were implemented, an ALC study published at the end of November 2008 found the number of insider wins is where it should be, ALC officials told CBC.

Tracking the outcome is not possible, however, because the corporation has changed how it measures what it calls non-arm's-length wins, CBC reports. The 2007 study looked at lottery retailers, while the new study includes ALC employees and family members.

While ALC describes the wins as being within an acceptable range, the connected group is still winning a significant portion of the larger prizes: 7.14 percent of the prizes worth $10 000 or more, as opposed to just 3.91 percent of the prizes worth $1 000 to $9 999.

Ian Dohoo, a statistician at UPEI, said the chance of such a spread occurring at random is one in 285.

But fellow statistician Dr. Jacques Allard, who teaches at the University of Moncton and has done work for the corporation, said the situation is not entirely random. Insiders win bigger prizes because of the lotteries they choose to play. "The retail owners tend to play the high-stakes games," said Allard. "The general public tend to choose much more the game where you win often but lower prizes."

Last year ALC withheld three prizes claimed by non-arm's-length winners after conducting its own investigations.

Allard said Atlantic Lotto's new security measures seem to be working, but that ALC needs to do more to make sure stores use the measures. More than half of retailers tested last year failed their compliance checks.

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