Nova Scotia

Chase the Ace lottery in Inverness draws huge crowds

What started as a local fundraiser in the village of Inverness, Cape Breton, has become nothing less than a phenomenon, as thousands converge every Saturday for a chance to win the big prize.

Community fundraiser turns into phenomenon as jackpot keeps growing

Hundreds of people wait their turn to buy tickets for the Chase the Ace fundraiser in Inverness, Cape Breton on August 22. The jackpot is expected to be more than $350,000 this week. (George Mortimer/CBC)

What started as a local fundraiser in the village of Inverness, Cape Breton, has become nothing less than a phenomenon, as thousands converge every Saturday for a chance to win the big prize.

In recent weeks, the jackpot has climbed by tens of thousands of dollars, without a winner.

Organizers expect that after Saturday's sales, the jackpot will climb to between $350,000 and $400,000.

In anticipation of even greater crowds this week, organizers with the village's Royal Canadian Legion branch have taken steps to streamline ticket sales and better co-ordinate traffic.

Spokesman Charlie MacQuarrie said parking will be restricted. "We will have extra tables available to sell tickets. Also, we've extended our ticket selling time to three hours, starting at 2 p.m. and running to 5 p.m.," he said.

Chase the Ace is something like a 50-50 draw, but instead of winning half the value of the ticket sales, the winning ticket holder receives a smaller cut of the take and a chance to draw the ace of spades from a deck of regular playing cards to win the big prize. 

Deck down to 9 cards

There are some restrictions: tickets can be purchased at only two locations in Inverness, only on the day of the draw, and the winner must be present to claim the prize. They must be 19 or older. 

When the deck of cards got down to 11, the crowds in Inverness on Saturdays started building. By last week, the village was at a virtual standstill.

There are now only nine cards left.

In addition to extending ticket sales by an hour, the community also plans to provide extra parking at Inverness Academy and at the local racetrack.

The money raised is intended for the Inverness Cottage Workshop, a place for adults with developmental disabilities. The workshop wants to take over, renovate and expand a building in Inverness.

That will happen much sooner than anyone expected, courtesy of Chase of Ace.

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