Premier won't 'hang' lottery corp. over misprint
Premier Dalton McGuinty dismissed calls Wednesday to overhaul Ontario's problem-plagued lottery corporation, saying he won't "hang" the agency over a few misprinted tickets.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. is recalling 92 lottery tickets sold Monday that were printed with the wrong draw date -- the latest in a string of missteps that critics say have undermined public confidence in the gaming agency.
McGuinty acknowledged the OLG's record is far from perfect, but said it took the right steps to remedy the latest mistake.
"There's always some political fun to be had in dealing with the OLG, given their record, which is less than stellar," McGuinty said in the legislature.
"But are we going to hang them for 92 misprints on a day when they sold 563,639 tickets? I think not."
The misprints are yet another foul-up by a $6-billion-a-year agency that's already been sharply criticized for insider wins, botched scratch-and-win tickets and even buying foreign cars instead of Ontario-made vehicles as casino prizes, said NDP critic Peter Kormos.
"What happened was yet another stunning screw-up in an organization with some of the highest-priced help in the province of Ontario," he fired back.
"Good grief. ... People have more confidence betting with Tony Soprano, and he's not even real."
In January, the OLG pulled about 1,100 scratch-and-win tickets from store shelves due to a printing error and apologized to players who thought they'd won big.
Thomas Noftall, 27, who thought he'd won $135,000 on Fruit Smash tickets, received a financial settlement from the OLG, but not the full prize.
The OLG said the latest misprints were caused by a computer glitch, which ended up printing the wrong date on 92 of the more than 560,000 tickets sold in a three-hour period Monday at 41 locations across the province.
Energy and Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman, who is responsible for overseeing the OLG, was absent from the legislature, but expressed confidence in the agency's top brass.
"Eight of 10 senior executives at OLG are new, including the CEO," he wrote in an email.
"They have our confidence and our expectations for constant improvement going forward."
Yet Smitherman blasted the same OLG executives last month for what he called a "crappy decision" to buy 22 Mercedes-Benz B200s as contest prizes, when thousands of Ontario auto workers were losing their jobs.
He stopped short of asking for resignations, but warned at the time that he expected the OLG to improve its performance.
That's not good enough, said Progressive Conservative justice critic Christine Elliott.
"He keeps telling us that he's doing something about it, yet problems keep on happening," she said.
"It's perhaps not being given the scrutiny that it deserves, and maybe someone else needs to take a look at it."
The OLG's reputation has also been damaged by a probe into so-called lottery insider wins that has resulted in several charges, she said.
In a report released last year, Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin slammed the OLG and said it ignored allegations of widespread retailer fraud.
A sweeping forensic audit released in February revealed that lottery insiders in Ontario won prizes totalling $198 million over the past 13 years.