And the loser is…

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There’s a storm brewing at the offices of provincial lottery agencies across the country:  young adults are not buying lottery tickets - at least not nearly as much as their parents.

Now, sadly, the agencies are trying to develop a new national lottery aimed at people under 35. They also want to find ways to make ticket-based gambling more attractive to the video-game generation.


We have no moral disagreement with the premise of lottery in this country. Here in P.E.I. the Atlantic Lottery Corporation pours thousands of dollars into provincial infrastructure. That’s good. If people are going to gamble at least society is seeing some benefit from it.

Lottery for those interested in playing is an individual choice but it doesn’t need to be targeted at the young. Considering the known addictiveness of gambling, marketing campaigns aimed at those under 35 is a dangerous proposition.

They can say “18 to 34” all they want, but the reality is, if a marketing campaign lures an 18-year-old into gambling, it will also lure a 15-year-old.

The big lotto games are not necessarily as appealing to today’s youth, said Andrea Marantz, spokeswoman for the Western Canada Lottery Corp in an interview with The Canadian Press. She says lottery is like any other kind of consumer product – they have to expend some effort in research and development to just keep products relevant.

Now the Interprovincial Lottery Corp., which represents all provincial and territorial lottery agencies, is looking for consultants who can come up with ideas for a new game.

Making this worse is that another task will be to analyze and understand provided research on the motivations and barriers to play for 18-34-year-old lottery players.

The good news is that statistics from Ontario indicate that among Ontarians who buy lotto tickets at least once a week, only 13 per cent are under 35. The Canadian Press report indicates the mean age of players who take part at least once a week is 52.

Across the country, the decline is sharp.

Here’s a little perspective on the lotteries’ woes: Sally MacDonald, a 32-year-old social service worker in Winnipeg, is one of the many millennials who are not interested in lottery tickets. She says the long odds are a prime reason.

“There’s no results from it. I’ve watched my dad play 6-49 for years and years, and he’s maybe won $500.”

MacDonald says people her age get more enjoyment out of surfing the web and filling out online questionnaires on sites such as Buzzfeed, where one recent page asked readers what actress would portray them in a movie of their life.

There is nothing wrong with playing the lottery in a responsible manner, but target marketing runs the risk of not only getting more lottery players, but also addicts. A better plan is needed.


Organizations: Canadian Press, Atlantic Lottery Corporation, Western Canada Lottery Interprovincial Lottery

Geographic location: P.E.I., Ontario, Winnipeg

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