Matter of trust

“Imagine the freedom.”
That simple little catch phrase has become so embedded into our collective psyche that it’s now the great Canadian dream. After all, why work hard to get ahead in life when the lap of luxury may be only a buck or two away?
Alas, Canadians only were given half the story. Turns out, the full phrase actually is a subliminal recruitment drive: “Imagine the freedom . . . Become a lottery retailer today.”
All kidding aside, the scandal at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. is no laughing matter. How can people have faith in a system, where the odds of striking it rich already are astronomical, when unscrupulous lottery retailers have been collecting tens of millions in fraudulent claims since 1999?
True, the OLG already has taken measures to enhance the integrity of the lottery system after allegations of winners being swindled and reports of lottery retailers winning big at rates 10 times higher than their statistical odds first surfaced last fall.
The nagging question, however, is whether lottery retailers—who, bottom line, are at the root of the current scandal—should be allowed to purchase tickets personally? After all, most companies that run contests clearly state that employees and their immediate families are not eligible to win any of the prizes.
Lottery retailers, of course, are not actual employees of the OLG. But by accepting the responsibility to sell tickets (and being paid a cut if a winner is sold at their establishment), should they be treated any differently?
It certainly would remove any temptation to cheat.
If that’s too drastic, perhaps they shouldn’t be allowed to buy tickets from their own business or, at the very least, while they’re working behind the counter.
The vast majority of lottery retailers are honest, having been smeared by the proverbial few bad apples. But changes at the front line—the lottery terminals—have to be weighed, too, in order to fully restore public confidence in the system.