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Lottery players vent fury

British Columbia LotteryBritish Columbia Lottery: Lottery players vent fury

Outraged Canadian lottery players made their voices heard yesterday with complaints about the 6/49 lottery doubling its price to $2 next year.

It was the same at Lotto Centres and was the top story last night on the CBC national news after the Interprovincial Lottery Corp. announced that $1 Lotto 6/49 tickets would be eliminated after the May 29, 2004, draw in order to offer larger jackpots.

"We've had negative feedback -- nothing positive," said Peter Low, manager of the Lotto Centre in Pacific Centre Mall.

"People are complaining about having to spend more money. They're saying the government just wants to get more money out of them."

The 6/49 tickets have sold for $1 for 22 years.

"It's a bit of a cash cow for the government," said Marion

Wilson-Brown of Vancouver. "But it's a way for the government to raise money without taxing us more."

The lottery has a minimum jackpot of $2 million, which rolls over each time there is no winner.

The new jackpots are expected to start at about $4 million and grow to $10 million or more on about half of the draws. The jackpots are also expected to hit $25 million during the year.

Lottery officials say people buy more tickets when the jackpots are higher.

"It's been the same game for 22 years, so people are resistant to change," said B.C. Lottery Corp. spokeswoman Alison Lester.

"I'm not going to say I'm surprised by the reaction. We expected both good and bad."

British Columbians spent $968 million on lotteries in the year that ended on March 31, an increase of $5.9 million from 2002.

Lotto 6/49 has been declining in popularity across the country, and now ranks third in B.C. in sales behind Keno and Scratch and Win.

B.C. gamblers spent $171 million on Lotto 6/49 last year, down from $194 million in 2002 and $205 million in 2001

B.C. ranks eighth among provinces in per-capita gambling.

The Province

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