The Atlantic Lottery Corporation has embarked on its latest marketing campaign to increase its outreach and find new players in Nova Scotia. It’s been reported that more than 400,000 vouchers to be used on the promotion have already been sent out to households in the province. People who used this voucher to create a new account on the Crown’s online gaming site will receive CA$20 worth of gaming credit.
The campaign received a mixed bag of responses from locals, some of whom believe that it is irresponsible and putting people at risk unnecessarily since it particularly targets individuals who would otherwise not be attracted to gambling. In harsher terms, some people also believe that this promotion is insensitive because it preys on people who are especially vulnerable to gambling harm due to lockdown restrictions.
One of the people who raised these concerns is Tory finance critic Murray Ryan. He explained further that the campaign is targeting people who are not actual gamblers and who are gambling online only because of the CA$20 voucher they are receiving. Commenting on the number of flyers that have already been sent out, Ryan said, “I’m kind of taken aback. That’s 40% of our population, basically.”
To be exact, over 409,314 vouchers have been sent to Nova Scotian local households. The promotion can only be taken advantage of by a newly registered account on the user platform, and not by experienced players. Jillian Moore, the spokesperson for the Crown corporation, has said that the promotion has picked up new online traffic and attracted new players, but refused to comment any further.
About the lack of specific details about how successful the campaign has been, Moore explained in an email that “As a general practice, Atlantic Lottery does not release financial or other results related to specific marketing campaigns or promotions.
“Overall, we have seen a significant increase in new accounts being created in recent months, with the number of players on alc.ca doubling since April 1, 2020.”
She added that the players’ health and safety remain the top priority for the Crown agency as the website offers multiple player protections like age and residency verifications, limits on deposits, time displays, and links to other responsible gaming material. Furthermore, the website also includes a self-exclusion program for gamblers who realize that their gaming has become problematic.
However, this statement didn’t do much to placate concerns. Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston commented, “We can’t have this type of stuff happening. I’d like the government to recognize that addictions and mental health are an issue for Nova Scotians. It’s on the mind of Nova Scotia and they should not be taking a position where they encourage this type of activity.”
Health Minister Zach Churchill said that the health department will be contacting the Atlantic Lottery Corporation to discuss the matter since the ALC failed to discuss the campaign with the department before it was officially launched. In his words, the health department is alarmed that there is a possibility of an increase in problematic gambling habits and reminded locals that there is a 24/7 support line available to all those who might be experiencing gambling harm or have loved ones who are.
This is not the first time that the ALC is facing accusations of preying on the vulnerable as previously, locals in New Brunswick also objected to an online gambling platform the Crown corporation launched in the region. Critics said they were worried about players getting addicted to gambling due to all the free time they have on their hands since the lockdowns started, and the considerable amount (up to CA$100) that players can play on a single spin.