Coronavirus: Lottery retailers refuse to sell or redeem lottery tickets

With the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, looking for lottery tickets can now be likened to trying to find a needle in a haystack. Several lottery retailers are temporarily halting sales of lottery tickets asa precautionary measure against the spread of the virus.

Kevin van Egdom, communications director with the Western Canada Lottery Corp., quoted on Calgary Herald, said they’re seeing a decline in sales owing to the current pandemic and resultant social distancing guidelines.

A few of the stores still sell lottery tickets and process instant scratch tickets, but wouldn't accept customer-filled lottery forms and redemptions any longer. The Rexall Pharmacy Group Ltd is one of such stores.

“Lotteries are a bit of an impulse purchase,” van Egdom said quoted on Calgary Herald. “We’re in a time right now where most people aren’t making those impulse purchases — you aren’t in a store or making a decision with people you work with to all throw a few dollars in to play the lottery.

“Based on other $70-million jackpots, we’re certainly seeing a decrease from what we would normally expect from that.”

Many lottery retailers are just too afraid to carry out the cash transactions and ticket exchange involved in buying a ticket. Since most of these retailers are independent businesses, Van Egdom said it is their choice to decide whether or not they want to keep selling.

“Some of them are making the decision to suspend their sales,” he said. “Some of that is because stores have closed completely, so obviously they’re not selling tickets.

“In other cases, some stores and chains have made the decision that although they’re staying open, they’ve decided to suspend selling lottery.

“Certainly, we respect their decision to make those choices. In a lot of cases, it’s pharmacies and grocery stores that are deciding to stay open as a step to protect their staff and maintain distancing between customers in their stores.”

According to Van Egdom, there is still a way to purchase tickets from a retail location presently, and this is by using the Play By subscription program offered by the lottery corporation.

This spontaneouslysigns a player up for selected draws, automatically checks the player’s numbers and mails or direct deposits any winnings. The package can last anywhere from three to twelve months.

“The subscription is definitely an option where you can play without leaving your house or without going to a store to buy a ticket or to check it,” van Egdom said. “We’re seeing lots more people calling in and going to the website to take advantage of that.”

Even though all lottery offices are closed to the public, the lottery corporation insists that winners would be able to claim prizes at a participating lottery retailer or by mail.

Every winner who has symptoms of COVID-19 or who is found to be at greater risk of infectionwould have to redeem their prizes through the mail-in claim method, notwithstandingthe amount that was won.

“All of our prize offices throughout our region are closed to the public,” van Egdom said. “We are still processing prizes, absolutely. But the main way people get them to us is by mail.

“We’re glad to see people doing the right thing and following the measures we’ve implemented. I think it’s a real testament to people taking the health of their families and communities very seriously.”


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