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RUSSELL WANGERSKY: Atlantic Lotto thinks you’re a sure bet

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Earlier this week, the city council in St. John’s found itself in a bit of a tizzy over an Atlantic Lotto promotional campaign. The lottery corporation wanted to pay the city $1,500 to bag 100 parking meters to offer free parking for a day.

It’s part of a national campaign to announce changes to the Lotto Max product — other parts of the campaign are rolling out across other Atlantic provinces.

Some St. John’s councillors were concerned about being involved in a promotion to sell lottery tickets — but if you want to be concerned about lotteries and their behaviour in the ever-more-crowded field of gambling, there are other, more serious places to look.

I’ve written before about the way Atlantic Lotto has mailed me vouchers for free online play after I made a one-time online purchase to view the company’s offerings. But now, people who signed up for Atlantic Lotto’s online service are getting opted in to something else.

They all got an email like this one:

Hi Russell,
Effective May 1,
2019 at 9:00 AM AT all alc.ca members will automatically be registered and entered in the 2Chance contest. Entries for 2Chance from all purchases made through your alc.ca account will be applied to your 2Chance account at the end of every day. For full contest details click here.
Sincerely,
The alc.ca team”

Now, if you were to go online and sign up for the plan, you’d be told, “Please read the alc.ca Terms of Service and these Rules and Regulations in full before registering for an alc.ca account or entering the 2Chance Contest. Registration and Contest entry constitutes your full agreement and acceptance of these Rules and Regulations.”

If you’re already an online client, you’re simply opted in.

What you’ve agreed to when entering 2Chance is interesting: “We collect your personal information when you voluntarily communicate with us through our Sites, open an Account on ALC.ca, participate in an on-line contest or promotion, subscribe to a service, or by other similar means.”

Among the reasons they collect that personal information are things like, “To send electronic communications (including promotional communications) to you in accordance with your communication preferences. … To promote our products and services …To perform market and related research and analysis (including carrying out surveys) … To share with ALC service providers for the above noted purposes as deemed necessary or advisable by ALC.”

You register your losing tickets, and the program gives you a chance to win anyway. What does Atlantic Lotto get? The tools and information needed to sell more lottery products.

And that can change: “We reserve the right to modify this privacy notice at any time, so please review it frequently.”

Review the terms of service even more closely, and you’ll see that Atlantic Lotto employees and participants can’t participate; neither can employees of something called “Splashdot.”

Research Splashdot, and you’ll find a Vancouver company that promises this: “At Splashdot, we believe relentless and continuous customer engagement is brand empowerment. We are a pre-eminent provider of online promotions, contests and loyalty programs. Our digital solutions help convert short-term customer interactions into long-term relationships.”

Splashdot came up with what it calls the Second Chance program: “Extend the lottery experience with more ways to play and more ways to win. We develop ironclad Second Chance programs that convert offline purchases into online loyalty, allowing you to grow and learn more about your loyal customers.”

You register your losing tickets, and the program gives you a chance to win anyway. What does Atlantic Lotto get? The tools and information needed to sell more lottery products.

It’s all well and good to worry about bagging parking meters; I’m more worried about the risks of “relentless and continuous customer engagement,” at least when a public lottery company is doing it with little oversight.

Russell Wangersky’s column appears in 36 SaltWire newspapers and websites in Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at russell.wangersky@thetelegram.com — Twitter: @wangersky.


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