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Ontario Lottery nixes Bingo scratch tickets

Ontario Lottery and Gaming CorporationOntario Lottery and Gaming Corporation: Ontario Lottery nixes Bingo scratch tickets

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation has hired outside auditors and is "working with the printer," as it investigates a complaint that winning cards on two editions of a Super Bingo game could be identified without scratching them, a spokesperson has confirmed.

In the meantime, the corporation has recalled more than one million of the scratch-and-win games and will destroy them, according to OLGC spokesperson Don Pister, who noted 19.5 million game cards had been printed. They were distributed as retailer orders were submitted. All remaining cards in storage will also be destroyed.

Pister said the OLGC acted quickly "and with an abundance of caution," contacting lottery sellers at 10,000 locations province-wide Monday and ordering them to remove Super Bingo games 1074 and 1076. Each has a grand prize of $50,000.

The corporation has come under scrutiny since a media report last fall found retailers were winning a disproportionate number of jackpots.

Although there is "confidence" that the design of the Bingo cards is secure, "we're being cautious," Pister said yesterday, noting the complaint had been filed with the Ontario Ombudsman and passed on to OLGC, which acted immediately. He expects the popular Bingo games will be back in stores once the investigation is completed. In the meantime, they've been replaced by Hawaiian Bingo.

The recall comes on the heels of a CBC probe this week alleging more vendor ripoffs. One questionable win involved a family member of a retailer who collected $12.5 million.

The OLGC first came under fire last fall when CBC's the fifth estate reported retailers were winning more prizes than chance allows. Featured was Coboconk senior Bob Edmonds, who was defrauded out of a $250,000 prize by a lottery ticket vendor. The OLGC insisted the case was isolated.

A later investigation found store clerks claimed one in 10 scratch-and-win prizes totalling $10.7 million in the last six years.

"Retailers play more so they win more," Pister said yesterday, adding police have been called in cases of suspicious wins.

The matter is under investigation by the Ontario Ombudsman "and out of respect for the process, we're not commenting at this time."

A spokesperson for Ombudsman André Marin confirmed that the preliminary report on the independent investigation has been forwarded to the OLGC as well as Public Infrastructure Renewal Minister David Caplan for comment. No date has been set for the release of the report.

Toronto Star

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