The Ontario lottery system’s diverse array of offerings is due for another exciting update in the not-so-distant future.
Starting in Autumn, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission will unveil its self-serve lottery terminal pilot project in select retail locations across the province. The OLG’s latest addition brings an automated element to its already established conventional and online lottery platforms.
Once implemented, Ontario will join the Maritime provinces, which became the first in Canada to launch self-serving lottery terminals. A similar project is also in the works for the British Columbia lottery system.
Ontario lottery self-serve terminal system is on its way
Ontario’s version of the project will see 1,400 terminals installed between the Fall of 2023 and Spring of 2024. However, the provincial government wants these terminals to verify player identification using a swiping or scanning system.
To do so, it must first make a few landmark changes.
Under the current Gaming Control Act, retailers have to manually check each user’s ID to confirm their age. But, if the government were to get their wish, the OLG will be able to authorize swipe or scan technology to ensure players are at least 18 years old.
Tony Bitonti, a spokesperson for OLG, told CTV News last Friday that the terminals share a figure similar to classic, automated snack machines.
“It does look like a vending machine,” he said. “They’ll have all the games you know, 649, Lotto Max, and they’ll have the Instant tickets.”
To gain access to these terminals, users will have the option to scan or swipe their driver’s license, passports, or other admissible forms of identification. On that note, Bitonti reiterated that this confidential, personal information will not be recorded or shared elsewhere.
“No personal information or personal data will be retained by our by our systems.”
Terminals set to complement high-volume retail areas
Bitonti envisions the self-serve lottery machines in high-traffic outlets such as gas stations, where customers hope for expeditious interactions. Possible additional locations may include convenience stores or small mom and pop-style shops.
“They’re easy. You put a couple bucks in, you buy your tickets and you don’t have to stand in line.”
That said, with greater access, there is an overwhelming need for safeguards to prevent underage users from duping the system. As such, the OLG stressed that it is responsible for training retailers, and part of that training will focus on “mitigating access by minors.”
At first, players will only have the ability to make purchases from the terminals. The process of claiming any winnings follows the same protocol as before.
The regulatory change to the Gaming Control Act became public on April 14. Ontario residents may offer any comments until the April 29 deadline, at which point the amendment will return to the government for further consideration.
Until then, players using OLG’s website should be aware of possible bank fees
For online lottery players in Ontario, the way you pay matters.
An Ontario man, who wishes to remain anonymous, learned that the hard way after facing almost $300 in bank fees for purchasing lottery tickets online.
The GTA resident claimed that he signed up for a lottery subscription with his credit card on the OLG website. There, he selected the ‘Direct Pay,’ which debuted in November, as his preferred online payment method. According to the OLG website, Direct Pay is:
“A new payment method that allows registered Players on OLG.ca and the OLG App to purchase Lottery tickets using their Visa or Mastercard without the need to deposit funds in My Balance.”
Shortly after purchasing tickets through Direct Pay, the complainant’s latest credit card statement showed $290 in bank fees related to 58 transactions.
Charges stem from the way banks classify lottery purchases
His bank, BMO, designated each lottery purchase as a cash advance, which carries additional fees and starts incurring interest immediately.
“It was confusion and anger at the same time,” he told CityNews. “Why am I being charged in the first place for something that’s been marketed as not having these fees associated with it?”
The confusion stems from the language used to describe Direct Pay on OLG’s website. It says that using this payment option may avoid cash advance fees, but the “may” stipulation actually depends on the user’s bank. Clearly, BMO is one of those banks.
A spokesperson for Canada’s oldest bank told CTV News that customers should be aware of their cardholder agreements. Within it, lottery tickets and other gaming purchases are classified as “cash-like transactions” because winning tickets may become cash.
Generally, this is a common condition for most Canadian banks to include in cardholder agreements.
Bitonti provides rundown of Pay Direct method
Prior to Pay Direct, users had to add funds to an e-wallet to purchase lottery tickets on OLG’s site. E-wallets hold the money that will go towards future purchases on the iGaming site.
“Financial institutions consider money deposited into the e-wallet in a customer’s OLG.ca account or any other iGaming company as a cash advance.
Bitonti continued by saying that OLG has agreements with financial institutions for Direct Pay. These agreements let players purchase lottery tickets using their Visa or Mastercard immediately, bypassing the deposit process and additional fees.
As it pertains to the BMO situation, the bank reached out to the claimant, reversing the cash advance fees.
Those questioning unexpected bank fees without media attention should contact their bank directly.
“OLG has been informed that the Bank of Montreal has changed its policies on these additional fees, which some customers using Direct Pay may have recently been charged. Customers are encouraged to contact their bank to request to have the charges reversed.”