Ontario Lottery and Gaming sees sharp drop in 6/49, Lotto Max sales

The luck of draw did not go in favour of Ontario Lottery and Gaming, according to its new annual report, which shows a sharp drop in lottery ticket sales.

Lotto sales $260 million lower than OLG budgeted for, so less money goes to government coffers

Sales of Lotto Max and Lotto 6/49 tickets dropped nearly 12 per cent from the previsou fiscal year, according to a new annual report by Ontario Lottery and Gaming. (CBC)

It's the luck of the draw. 

Figures in the new annual report from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG) show a sharp drop in sales of Lotto Max and Lotto 6/49 tickets, translating into lower-than-expected revenue for Ontario government coffers. 

Combined with a small drop in sales of scratch-and-win tickets, OLG's total lottery revenues were $259.7 million lower than budgeted for in the 2014-15 fiscal year, according to the corproation's annual report, which was made public Tuesday. 

OLG is blaming the lottery-sales slump on its own bad luck: buyers won jackpots more frequently than expected, preventing the prizes from rising week after week to the high levels that attract huge ticket sales. 

Sales of Lotto Max and Lotto 6/49 dropped $167.5 million from the previous fiscal year, That works out to a drop of 11.9 per cent. 

OLG's annual report attributes the drop to "a marked reduction in the number of higher value jackpot draws."  Lotto Max only hit the $50 million mark nine times in 2014/15, compared to 17 times the previous year. 

Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) attributes the drop in ticket sales to "a marked reduction in the number of higher value jackpot draws." (Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation)

The province's gambling agency says ticket sales increase during what it calls "rolls" — stretches of time when jackpots are not won and therefore increase in size. 

"Lottery performance for fiscal 2014-15 was negatively impacted by fewer rolls for Lotto Max and Lotto 6/49," reads the report. "Customers tend to wager less when the jackpot is at or near its base level." 

Few millennials buy lottery tickets

OLG is also frustrated by what it calls a "demographic challenge"  — millennials aren't buying lottery tickets like their elders. 

"Even though about 45 per cent of adult Ontarians play the lottery regularly, only seven per cent of adults under 35 years of age play the lottery at least once a week," says the report. 

Its would-be solution: make it easier to buy lottery tickets. 

"OLG's current terminal technology limits where paper-based lottery tickets can be sold and is not suited to adapt to current shopping patterns," says the report. OLG wants to expand ticket sales to what it calls "multi-lane retailers, such as supermarkets and big box stores where lottery tickets can be purchased at multiple checkouts." 

With OLG's revenues from casinos and slots added to the lottery takings, the corporation paid $2.043 billion to the province of Ontario, down 1.6 per cent from the 2013-14 figure of $2.077 billion. 


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