As they daydreamed about winning the jackpot yesterday, some Loto-Quebec regulars were sure about one thing.
"No names and definitely no picture of me in the paper," said Brigitte Serpa, a waitress at the Euro Deli on St. Laurent Blvd. who spends about $40 a month on Super 7 and 6/49 tickets.
Serpa, 34, said a new Loto-Quebec policy not to publicize any details about people who win more than $4 million suits her just fine.
The publicity restriction comes after an alleged extortion plot targeting a LaSalle couple who won $27 million in May was foiled by police last month.
Loto-Quebec spokesperson Jean-Pierre Roy said the temporary policy will stay in place until Quebec Finance Minister Monique Jereme-Forget decides — probably by mid-August — among various options to improve winners' security.
He would not elaborate on what options are being considered, but they involve how winners are welcomed, advised, and followed up with, he said.
Roy agreed the marketing challenge created by the recent extortion scare is not an easy one, since putting a face on jackpot winners is a big part of why people buy tickets.
"People want proof of where the money is going," he said.
For Serpa, seeing winners' faces and names publicized was bad news even before the alleged extortion plot. "It's scary to have all that (information) out there," she said.
But she agreed the ban poses a conundrum for the crown corporation, which paid out nearly a billion dollars to lottery winners last year.
"There should be a way to know for real where all that money is going."
Fatima Galvao, a cashier at the Omni Supermarche depanneur on Prince Arthur St. near St. Laurent, sells a few hundred dollars of lotto tickets per day.
She herself likes to dabble, spending between $20 and $30 a week on various tickets like Mots Caches and Gagnant a Vie.
Jackpot winners should appear on television and in photos but without being named, said Galvao, 48.
"They could wear wigs and sunglasses. They should be protected. And they shouldn't have to hold those huge cheques."
Last week Galvao, who has worked in the depanneur for 27 years, won $50 from playing two strips of La Quotidienne but she still hopes that one day she'll win big and everything will change overnight.
Mitch Joel, president of Twist Image, a Montreal-based digital marketing company, said the "aspirational" hope of consumers fuels lottery ticket sales.
"If the winners look like Monsieur and Madame tout-le-monde (Mr. and Mrs. Everybody)," then that feeds people's faith that they, too, can win.
The lottery company's current TV ad campaign, featuring a couple that won the jackpot and that ponder "winning doesn't change you, but..." is effective at reaching people's hopes.
"It's the theatre of the mind" in marketing terms, he said.
Alan Conter, a lecturer in media, ethics and the law at Concordia University, said Loto-Quebec should be able to reassure the public about where winnings end up with regular audits that would not have to reveal publically the winners.