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B.C. lotto sales down during COVID-19 pandemic

Last Updated Apr 8, 2020 at 7:58 pm PDT

FILE - BCLC has confirmed overall sales have dropped during the pandemic (Courtesy the BC Lottery Corporation)

Many vendors are trying to respect physical distancing protocols: BCLC

A complete financial breakdown of losses likely won't be available until the end of the fiscal year

Expiry dates to claim prizes have been extended six months

KAMLOOPS (NEWS 1130) — Lottery tickets are proving not to be essential amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matt Lee, with BCLC, said Tuesday that overall sales have dropped, mainly because many vendors are trying to respect physical distancing protocols.

“Because of the fact that we’ve seen more and more retailers choosing not to sell lottery tickets, I think it’s important to mention that we support the decision of some of those private-sector retailers to reduce those hours or close locations or to at least operate within physical distancing protocols.”

He said some lottery retailers have decided to stay open, while still adhering to all orders from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Lee added a complete financial breakdown of losses likely won’t be available until the end of the fiscal year, but there’s no doubt retail sales are down.

“We have seen some lottery sales decline over the last few weeks. In the meantime, though, we’ve seen sales on playnow.com and on the BCLC Lotto app increase over the last few [weeks] because of the pandemic. Unfortunately, we’ve had more and more players going to playnow.com just because they’re not able to go out and they’re respecting those physical distancing protocols. Lottery tickets are, I think we can all say, are not essential purchases at this point.”

Meanwhile, expiry dates to claim lottery ticket prizes have been extended six months, so you now have 18-months to check those bought during this crisis.

Winning tickets normally expire one year after a draw has taken place.

The BCLC headquarters in Kamloops has been temporarily closed since March 18, as have prize payout centres in Kamloops and Vancouver.

All casinos remain closed.

While some retailers are still paying out prizes worth as much as $2,000, most are no longer comfortable — for security reasons — keeping a lot of cash on hand.