Lottery fever spreading through town

Bryce Forbes

Lottery fever has struck residents here—and the doctor’s cure is more lottery tickets.
In anticipation of tomorrow night’s LottoMax draw worth an estimated $95 million, the biggest in Canadian history, local retailers have seen a sharp increase in the number of tickets being sold.
“You’re going to see the stampede on Friday,” noted Barb Stainke of The Bonnie Blue on Scott Street.
Stainke said she sold about $1,000 more in LottoMax tickets than usual last Friday, when the jackpot was $50 million along with 20 separate $1-million MaxMillions draws.
One of the MaxMillions was won by a person in the Kenora area.
This week’s main jackpot remains at $50 million, but there will be 45 $1-million MaxMillions draws.
Despite the big bucks up for grabs, some local residents said they wouldn’t change their lifestyle if they hit the jackpot tomorrow night.
“Well, there would be an awful lot of charities around Fort Frances that would benefit, that’s for sure,” noted Blondina Ditmars, a regular lottery customer at The Bonnie Blue.
This week, she spent $5 more than usual on LottoMax.
Luck may be on Ditmars’ side as she has won $10,000 on the lottery before, but that was about 20 years ago.
“I really don’t know what I would spend the rest of the money on because to me, it’s just a game,” she added.
“[I play] because hopefully one day I might win, and it would help my kids and grandchildren,” noted another Bonnie Blue regular Jim Fowler.
“If I won the $50 million, I wouldn’t change my lifestyle at all because it is pretty good,” he remarked.
“But I would take care of a lot of people.”
Meanwhile, Stainke said she’s seeing more people who aren’t regulars coming in for tickets.
“I’m noticing people are coming in earlier, so I recommend to people to come in before Friday because the last time there was a big draw like this, as it got closer to our time zone cut-off, the machine went down.
“And there is nothing we can do if the machines go down, the retailers can’t help you,” she stressed.
“Machines are down, you cannot purchase.”
With the different style of winning with the LottoMax, Stainke thinks this type of rush to lottery retailers might become a more regular occurrence.
“Is there more people coming in? Definitely,” she remarked. “Definitely seen more since the $50 million with the five $1-million ‘chasers.’
“Furthermore, let’s say, for example, that of the 45 million-dollar ‘chasers,’ 25 of them go, plus the $50 million goes, as well.
“So when it starts, it starts at $10 million plus all the [MaxMillions] that weren’t won. So it going to start at $30 million.
“How fast is it going to take to hit $50 million again?
“So the craze might have a couple weeks where it dies down slightly before it heads back up again,” Stainke noted.
But with more people putting their money towards the LottoMax, other ones seem to be taking a hit.
“This week I’m seeing people not buy their regular 6/49 tickets and they are investing it all in LottoMax,” Stainke said.
She also is seeing more people drop big bucks at her store, although most of them represent a larger group of people.
“I’m having people come in and throwing money down and say, ‘Spend it,’” she remarked.
In the 11 years Stainke has been at The Bonnie Blue, she has seen this level of craze hit the town before.
“The Lotto 6/49 has hit the $50-million mark before and when it happened, we also had a restaurant running at the time,” she recalled.
“I got to the point where I couldn’t serve coffee. The lineup was through the door.”
If the grand prize doesn’t go this week, the next LottoMax might set another Canadian record.
The grand prize will be capped at $50 million, but the number of MaxMillions draws will rise.
Stainke gives three tips to the ticket-buying public: know how to check your tickets, never gamble beyond your means, and, most importantly, you can’t win if you don’t purchase.
“It only takes one [line of numbers] to win,” she reasoned.