Break-open bonanza: Staggering sales of pull-tab tickets in N.L.

People in Newfoundland and Labrador appear to have a love affair with pull tabs, or break-open tickets, according to the Atlantic Lottery Corporation.

ALC says $85 million was spent on break-open tickets over the last year

When it comes to break-open tickets, Newfoundland and Labrador spent $85 million over the last year, according to the Atlantic Lottery Corporation. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

People in Newfoundland and Labrador appear to have a love affair with pull tabs, or break-open tickets, according to the Atlantic Lottery Corporation.

The tickets are for sale everywhere, including at bingo halls across the province. In some cases, the tickets are responsible for long lineups in convenience stores.

ALC says in Newfoundland and Labrador, $85 million was spent on pull-tab tickets in 2015-2016. At between 50 cents and $1 per ticket, that adds up to a total of about 138 million break-open tickets sold in one year.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, $85 million worth of break-open tickets were sold in 2015-2016. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

"Wow … my God, that's a lot of money," Richard Lombard, a convenience store customer, told CBC in downtown St. John's.

Overall, the money spent on pull-tab tickets is just a part of the $148.5 million people in this province spent on lottery in the last year.

Those numbers, in the ALC's annual report released earlier this week, shows Newfoundland and Labrador outspending all the other Atlantic provinces.

'Chance of winning an extra few dollars'

For some people, the pull-tabs and other lottery purchases can feel like an addiction — but for others, it's an opportunity to win using loose change.

Waste of money. I got better stuff to spend my money on.- Customer Michael Fowler

"If you got a few dollars in your pocket," said another store customer Jessica Peach, when asked by CBC why she buys the tickets.

"Just that chance of buying a few break opens and you might have a chance of winning an extra few dollars."

Kathy King, a clerk at PJ's Convenience in St. John's, says sometimes it's sad how much money some people spend on break opens. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

However, not all convenience store customers see that kind of opportunity.

"Waste of money. I got better stuff to spend my money on," said Michael Fowler, who spoke to CBC outside Flower Hill Convenience in St. John's.

"For instance, a dozen beer. And I got my job and I don't have to lose my job over an addiction," he added.

At PJ's Convenience in St. John's, counter clerk Kathy King isn't surprised to hear so much money has been spent in this province on break-open tickets.

Store clerk Kathy King says some people spend endless hours and dollars on pull-open tickets, with no big winnings to show for it. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

"I'd say probably about four to five hours, (is spent) selling these," she said.

King adds in some cases, the majority of people buying and peeling the pull-tab tickets open spend a lot of time — and money — at the counter, with no winnings to show for it.

"Very sad, heartbreaking," said King.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said the total amount spent added up to 170 million tickets sold. In fact, that number should be 138 million.
    Sep 19, 2016 2:24 PM NT

About the Author

Cec Haire

Reporter

Cec Haire reports for CBC News from St. John's.