With less than three weeks to go, the 24th annual STARS lottery is heading into the homestretch of a year where tickets have been harder than ever to sell.
Mike Lamacchia, vice-president of operations for Alberta, said Friday that 82 per cent of the lottery’s main tickets have been sold, compared with 92 per cent at the same time last year. A few weeks ago they were at 64 per cent. Up until last year, the lottery has traditionally been a sellout.
“We’re getting there.”
Thanks to increased public awareness, they have seen moderate progress in ticket sales and the Lucky Stars 50/50 lottery is now sold out, Lamacchia said. That jackpot is $3.1 million, with the winner getting half.
Ticket sales for the early bird draw ended March 1 and that draw will be made March 17. The deadline to buy tickets for the main draw is March 22. The final draw is April 13.
Lamacchia said they are optimistic that they will sell out but it will take a big push to get there. At the same time, he said they are well aware of the tough times many Albertans and other charities are going through due to the economy.
Red Deer is STARS’ number one destination, with more flights that anywhere else in Alberta. Last year, the air ambulance service made 80 flights to the city. STARS has bases in Calgary, Edmonton, and Grande Prairie, and has been flying for over 30 years.
More people are choosing to buy the $25 tickets this year rather than the more expensive packages. There are still about 2,000 $25 tickets available, 5,000 $60 tickets, 20,000 $100 tickets and 3,000 $250 tickets.
Lottery officials have expressed concern recently about slower than usual ticket sales and whether the 2017 rendition would sell out. About 30 per cent of STARS operations are funded by profits from the lottery.
Last year the final ticket was sold on the last day of tickets sales, Lamacchia said.
The shared funding model with the Alberta Health Services has worked for the last 30 years, he said. “Government knows where we’re at from a funding perspective, so we’ll evaluate once this year’s complete on what we’re going to be doing in the years to come.”
This year’s lottery offers 3,145 prizes valued at over $4.9 million. This includes four dream homes — one in Red Deer at 22 Lindman Avenue, and the others in Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge.
For more information about purchasing tickets, go online to starslotteryalberta.ca