Follows similar investigations of Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and Atlantic Lottery Corporation
The British Columbia Lottery Corporation is welcoming an investigation by the provincial ombudsman into the number of insider wins and ticket-selling practices.
"Trust is paramount," lottery corporation spokesman Paul Smith said. "We think this is a good opportunity for third-party reassurance to the public."
B.C. Ombudsman Kim Carter announced the investigation yesterday, saying the agency will examine how the corporation monitors its retailers and security procedures to ensure that people who present winning tickets are the rightful owners.
"Recent public disclosures have left some questions out there," Ms. Carter said. "I believe we will be able to lay out what is actually being done and make some useful recommendations."
The lottery corporation posted data on its website last week about the number of major wins by retailers in response to a freedom of information request.
Retailers have won 4.4 per cent of all B.C.'s major lottery prizes of more than $10,000 since April of 2000.
The lottery corporation says retailers tend to purchase more tickets than the average person, especially for Keno, which offers a new game every five minutes. If Keno data are excluded, the number of insider wins by retailers in B.C. is 2.5 per cent of all major prizes.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation also said its retailers play lotteries more frequently when questions were raised this fall about insider wins in that province. The Ontario Ombudsman launched an investigation of the lottery corporation in October, which is still ongoing.
Mr. Smith said the B.C. Lottery Corporation conducts investigations of every win of more than $10,000. In Ontario, only wins of $50,000 or more by an insider are subject to internal investigation.
Recently, the B.C. Lottery Corporation ran advertisements reminding customers to sign the back of tickets before they are checked by a retailer.
Improvements have also made it more difficult for someone to determine whether a scratch ticket is a winner, without damaging the ticket, Mr. Smith said.
Ms. Carter said she hopes to complete her investigation by the spring of 2007.