Police refuse to elaborate
Insider lottery charges to be explained in Wed. press conference
The Ontario Provincial Police will announce Wednesday that they have laid a set of charges following investigations into "insider" lottery wins in Ontario.
The charges, which will be announced at a news conference, relate to a multi-million-dollar fraudulent lottery prize claim, said Inspector Dave Ross of corporate communications for the Ontario Provincial Police.
The charges come nine months after a scathing report issued in March by Ontario's ombudsman, Andre Marin. The report slammed the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. for ignoring allegations of widespread fraud by retailers who were winning too many lottery prizes.
In his report, Marin accused the corporation of "coddling" ticket sellers and playing "games" with customers who complained they had been cheated of their jackpots.
"The OLG is fixated on profile rather than on public service," he concluded. "It is too close to retailers, who are not just its front-line sales force, but some of its best customers."
Marin concluded confidence in Ontario's lottery system was shattered because OLG lost sight of its obligation to the public in its desire to maintain a good relationship with retailers.
He said lottery officials who raised concerns about suspect claims by retailers in 2003 and 2004 were told by the former CEO: "Sometimes you hold your nose."
Shortly after Marin's report was released, Ontario Public Infrastructure Minister David Caplan asked police to look into the ombudsman's findings and directed OLG to turn over all its files on insider wins to police for review.
The scandal broke in October 2006 with the case of Bob Edmonds, 78, of Coboconk, Ont., who was cheated out of $250,000 in winnings by a lottery retailer.
The Ontario scandal has prompted similar investigations - and changes in procedures - at lottery corporations across the country.
Starting New Year's Day, players across Canada will have to sign their lottery tickets before cashing them in, while retailers will have to undergo background checks and navigate a new set of rules to play the lottery.
Some in British Columbia will no longer be allowed to purchase a ticket from their place of business, while others in Ontario will have any wins over $10,000 investigated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission - the new regulator of Ontario's lottery corporation starting Jan. 1.
An audit in Nova Scotia found retailers pocketed 85 winning tickets - each worth more than $25,000 - for a total of $14 million. The Nova Scotia government is demanding a review of the Atlantic Lottery Corp. after it was unable to explain why lottery insiders won approximately 10 times more major prizes than expected.
British Columbia is still absorbing the impact of ombudsman Kim Carter's five-month investigation into the lottery system, which found the public was in danger of being ripped off by retailers and their employees who sold tickets.