Lottery agencies are upgrading technology and making gambling more readily available to increase sales. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Lotteries look to younger customers to increase sales

Promoting online and interactive games

A drop in profits has lottery corporations looking to upgrade technology to appeal to younger customers.

The Western Canada Lottery Corp. alone reported a $150-million drop in lottery revenues in 2017 from the previous year.

Drew Bourhis, who was the youngest customer in line at the Bower Place lottery booth Thursday, said he knows few people his age who purchase lottery tickets.

“My girlfriend doesn’t do it. I don’t think any of my friends do it. Maybe my brother,” said Bourhis, 34, of Red Deer.

He said he started buying tickets about 10 years ago, probably because he saw the millions of dollars in jackpots.

“It’s the only gambling I do. I don’t play VLTs or anything, so I don’t feel bad spending $20 a week.”

You can’t win unless you buy, he said.

“I won $2,000 last year, so it happens. You do win sometimes,” Bourhis said.

Lottery clerk Debbie Selander said most customers are in their 60s or 70s. Younger customers like scratch and win tickets, she said.

Last month, changes were announced for Lotto Max that will take place in May. The jackpot will grow to as much as $70 million and there will be two draws each week, instead of one.

Selander said that might encourage more people to buy.

“You never know,” Selander said.

Margaret Swayda, who works at a grocery store in Drumheller, said young people who buy lottery tickets at her store are in the 25-to 30-age range.

“They’re getting up there. They’re working,” said Swayda, who added winning the lottery would be a nice Christmas gift.

In recent years, lottery agencies have moved to make gambling more tech friendly and easier for people to gain access. More provinces have opened online gambling sites where players can engage in casino-style games or buy lottery tickets.

Swayda wasn’t sure if online gambling sites would make it more attractive to younger buyers. It certainly doesn’t appeal to her.

“I won’t touch the stuff. I don’t trust online. My son uses his phone for everything. So does my daughter-in-law. Don’t ask me how to work my (tablet). I don’t even have internet on my phone.”

People must be 18 years or older to buy tickets. Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis has an online site GameSense to learn how gambling works, the odds of gambling and where to find help if gambling becomes a problem.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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