Further clarification sought on legality of Chase the Ace Sweepstakes
Following up on last week’s cease and desist order issued by the Town of St. Marys to the St. Marys Lincolns regarding the hockey team’s Chase the Ace Sweepstakes, both parties have reached out to Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) representatives in the hopes of gaining further clarification on the matter.
Though the AGCO meeting had not taken place yet as of press time, both Town of St. Marys CAO Brent Kittmer and St. Marys Lincoln Treasurer Stewart Grant released statements to the Independent to provide their interpretations of what has transpired thus far.
Statement from Brent Kittmer (Town of St. Marys CAO):
“First and foremost, the Town is a supporter of the Lincolns. The Town would not have taken any of the actions to date unless we had cause to believe we needed to.
On February 8, 2017 we had a call from our local AGCO inspector. The call was to advise the Town that the AGCO had become aware of the Lincolns’ Chase the Ace Sweepstakes; that the inspector had asked the AGCO’s legal counsel to review the sweepstakes; and that the AGCO had determined that the sweepstakes may be an unlawful lottery.
During the call we were told that an infraction against the Town’s liquor license would be placed in the Town’s file held at the AGCO. We were also advised that if unlawful gaming continued to occur at a Town licensed facility that further infractions could be filed against the Town’s liquor license. We have since received confirmation from the local AGCO inspector that the liquor license infraction has been closed. This is because the Town had no previous history of infractions and because the Town took immediate action with the Lincolns to cease the sweepstakes’ activities.
During this initial call we were further advised that the AGCO would make the OPP aware of the AGCO’s concerns with a potential unlawful lottery and the liquor license infraction that was to be placed on the Town’s file. The Detachment Commander visited me on February 10th to discuss the issue and the OPP’s role in the matter and advised that the OPP would be taking no further action unless requested by the AGCO.”
Statement from Stewart Grant (St. Marys Lincolns Treasurer):
“Due to increased lottery regulations in Ontario, the St. Marys Lincolns have made significant changes with our approach to fundraising this season. We have been unable to obtain lottery licenses to run our annual Elimination Draw, participate in the net proceeds of Nevada tickets, or even run simple 50/50 draws at our games. Without the ability to obtain a lottery license for the Lincolns in the Town of St. Marys, we have had to find new ways to raise funds to financially support the operations of the hockey club.
We have been absolutely thrilled with the community’s response to our hockey card program which has turned into a great fundraiser for the team. With 60 years of hockey history in St. Marys, we have seen some truly legendary people wear the green-and-white. Some of these players, like Terry Crisp and J.P. Parise, went on to have memorable NHL careers. Others, like Jacques Cousineau and Mike Mattiussi, came to St. Marys as young men to play for the Lincolns and then stayed to build a life here…starting families and businesses, and becoming cornerstones of our community. Our hockey card program that is underway to honour these Lincoln alumni and our current players has really resonated with people in St. Marys. Even after the halting of the Chase the Ace Sweepstakes, demand for new alumni cards has continued to be evident as we’ve received several new requests just this past week.
The fact that we were giving away free tickets for our Chase the Ace Sweepstakes definitely added to the fun with our hockey card program. We looked at these weekly draws as a great way to give something back to our fans and to create a buzz in the community. With the jackpot growing each week, the Chase the Ace program had become a great source of discussion and excitement in the community.
By selling our hockey cards at fair market value of $2 (or 3 for $5) while giving away free Chase the Ace Sweepstakes tickets, and by making a ‘no-purchase necessary’ option available to the public for these tickets also, we are completely comfortable that our Chase the Ace draws follow the format of “Sweepstakes” regulations, which do not require a lottery license. It’s really the same idea as McDonalds has with their successful Monopoly Game Sweepstakes.
I’m hopeful that once the AGCO representatives have the chance to meet with us and fully understand how our program works, they will agree with the Lincolns’ and Town of St. Marys’ positions that our fundraising efforts have been within the rules all along.”