Lotto Max players frustrated with Loto-Quebec closing terminals during COVID-19 pandemic
MONTREAL -- There was no winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max $70 million jackpot. Only one of the $1 million 10 Maxmillions prizes was won by a player in Atlantic Canada.
If there were a winner Friday, however, some residents in Quebec would be furious if certain numbers were pulled.
“What happens if my numbers come out?” said Ray Bell, who bought Lotto Max tickets every week with nine others from his work before Quebec terminals were shut down. “There’s a $70 million for the Lotto Max. With 10 guys that’s $7 million a head for guys that work. What happens if I get all the numbers?”
Loto-Quebec’s closed all terminals and only allow online purchases as part of the public company's efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. Tickets can still be purchased at Loto-Quebec's site.
The decision has left some lottery players upset.
Bell, like others who contacted CTV News, plays the same numbers each week and is used to checking the Lotto Max draw hoping that his numbers come up. He, like many, has been playing the same numbers for years. His mother has been playing her numbers for decades.
He said he has no interest in using the online system.
“I don’t have a computer,” said Bell.
CROSSING THE BORDER TO PLAY
Other viewers have contacted CTV News stressed at not being able to play their numbers knowing that other provinces have not stopped in-store ticket purchases.
Debbie Dalling lives outside of Lachute and works in Ontario at a convenience store. She said customers have been crossing the border regularly to purchase scratch tickets and Lotto Max and other games.
“I think his (Quebec Premier Francois Legault) intentions were well-intentioned except that it kind of backfired because the way they did it was out of the blue,” said Dalling, who went to her local dep Friday only to find the clerk was pulling scratch tickets from the shelf. “I don’t think it was well planned or well thought out.”
She said some Ontario stores have voluntarily pulled their scratch tickets from behind the counter to dissuade people from showing up. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation closed its prize centre, but still allows ticket purchases from authorized sellers.
Dalling said elderly customers in particular have come across the border to purchase lotto and scratch tickets.
“They, in particular, went further afield from home in order to come and purchase their tickets,” said Dalling.
One caller from a seniors’ residence in Montreal questioned why SAQ and SQDC outlets remain open to sell alcohol and marijuana, while lotto terminals have been closed. The residents, the person said, are used to their weekly lotto routine.
"I don’t drink and I don’t do drugs, but if my numbers get called, I’m not going to be happy," they said.
Dalling opened a Loto-Quebec account about five years ago, and decided to update it to try to purchase a ticket.
“I had to make some changes because it’s been a fair amount of years,” she said. “I included my new banking information and then I went back to this other page, and whenever I tried to log in, it said I can’t access my account right now and to try again later. This has been going on for a week.”
Dalling’s brother also could not log on, and said all calls go directly to a voicemail system.
Loto-Quebec posted on its Twitter account that lines are extremely busy in the current context and agents are doing their best to respond to querries.
Sol Boxenbaum runs a private practice for those suffering from gambling addiction, and said their desire to play the lottery may supercede concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak.
“That could be the biggest problem on some people’s minds right now,” said Boxenbaum.“They’re going to have to do without, and it’s not easy. When it becomes an addiction, you lose all logic and you lose all common sense and everything just becomes a need for immediate gratification. It’s a sad situation but there’s nothing they’re going to be able to do about that.”
All casinos, poker houses and bingo halls are closed in Quebec in addition to lottery terminals being closed.
Boxenbaum’s advice is simple to those frustrated with not being able to purchase a ticket or play cards.
“The only advice I can give them is to abstain for as long as necessary,” he said. “This is not the end of the world. It’s a question of time and there are a lot of more important things to be worried about than whether you can get out and get your lottery tickets.”