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Updated October 7, 2009

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Customer Service Comparison
Posted September 3, 2009, updated September 9, 2009 with the addendum

With the upcoming retirement of Super 7, I had a couple of questions on how the last draw will be handled. These questions were not addressed in the press release announcing the retirement of Super 7.

Rather than send the questions to just one lottery company, I decided to send them to all 5 Canadian lottery companies. The purpose of this article is to rate the companies’ customer service on the quality of their answers and discuss one very important discrepancy in the answers.

The following are the three questions that were sent to all 5 companies.

1. In the Super 7 game description, it states that 45% of sales is used to fund the prize pool. When determining the dollar value of the prize pool, what is the cost attributed to a free Super 7 ticket?

2. I understand the last Super 7 draw will be held on September 18 and if no ticket wins the jackpot in that draw, the jackpot will be divided among the match 6 plus bonus winning tickets. What happens if there are no jackpot winning tickets and no match 6 plus bonus winning tickets in the last draw?

3. After the September 18 draw, what will be awarded when redeeming Super 7 tickets that win a free ticket?

Lotto Quebec scored a 0 on a scale of 0 to 10. They never responded to my inquiry. I sent them two emails from two different email addresses in case one was spam filtered.

Atlantic Lottery also scored a 0. They only partially answered one question and did not answer the other two questions. Most of their email contained marketing material rather than answers. In doing so, they included information that was incorrect. They stated the new game, Lotto Max, will launch on September 25 but according to the press release, the new games starts on September 19. Which is worse, no response as per Lotto Quebec or an incorrect response? Hard to say, but they both get a 0.

Western Canada Lottery only answered two questions and was awarded 6 points. Western Lottery completely ignored question 1.

British Columbia Lottery scored a 7. They also answered 2 out of the three questions. They were not awarded any points for their answer for question 3. Just like Atlantic Lottery, they stated that free tickets won in the last Super 7 will redeem for $2. But what about the free tickets that were won in previous draws. Are we to assume we must redeem those free tickets in the last draw?

Ontario Lottery and Gaming received the highest score of 8. They answered 2 questions and a partial answer for the third question. They responded to the third question that free tickets will redeem for cash but did not state the amount. Not to be assumed it will be $2 since they assign a value of $0.90 to free Super 7 tickets when calculating the size of the prize pool.

Discrepancy

The variety of responses was a surprise, given how simple the questions were. But the biggest surprise was the discrepancy of answers for the second question.

The question starts off by repeating what was already announced in the press release. That is, what happens if the jackpot is not won? But what happens if no tickets match 7 numbers and no tickets matched match 6 numbers plus the bonus number. This is a distinct possibility since it has happened several times already and most recently on July 17 when the jackpot was $17 million.

Only 3 companies answered the second question. Quebec Lotto did not respond at all as stated above and Atlantic Lottery simply repeated what was already stated in the preamble to the question.

BC Lottery and Western Canada Lottery responded that the money will be awarded to the next prize category – that is, the match 6 numbers prize category. BC Lottery had the most complete answer by going on to explain that the money will continue down the prize categories if there are no winners at a given level. A highly unlikely scenario but nonetheless the most complete answer. They received an extra point for that.

So if BC Lottery supplied the most complete answer for question 2, did they supply the most accurate answer? Hard to say. OLG gave a very different answer. They responded that if there are no winners in the first and second prize categories, the money will be "transferred to the unclaimed prize fund".

The discrepancy in the answer amounts to a difference of millions of dollars of awarded prizes. It could amount to tens of millions of dollars if the Super 7 jackpot continues to roll to the last draw. Two companies state all the prize money will be awarded. But OLG states "maybe".

That is a significant difference.

How likely is it for the jackpot and match 6 plus bonus prize categories to have no winning tickets? It has occurred a surprisingly large number of times - a total of 109 times since the first draw of Super 7 on June 10, 1994. Most of the occurrences were in the early years of the game when sales were relatively low. For example, it happened 18 times during the first year of the game. In recent years it happened less often. So far it happened two times this year, four times in 2008 and six times in 2007. So if the top two prizes are not won an average of 5 times per year, there is an approximately a 10% chance they are not won in any given draw.

Addendum

A reader pointed out the OLG website now addresses two of the above questions. For the second question, the jackpot money rolls down until paid out. In other words, the OLG information matches the BC Lottery and Western Canada Lottery responses. The OLG website also states that free Super 7 tickets will redeem for $2 after the last draw.

The above analysis still stands though, since it was based on responses received from the various lottery companies.