Provincial lottery agencies are facing a big problem – millennials aren't buying lottery tickets nearly as much as their parents do.
The agencies are banding together to try to develop a new national lottery aimed at people under 35. They also want to find ways to make ticket-based gambling more attractive to the video-game generation.
"We know that this young adult demographic has changed and that the kinds of games we're offering – the big lotto games – are not necessarily as appealing to today's younger adults," said Andrea Marantz, spokeswoman for the Western Canada Lottery Corp., which covers the territories and three Prairie provinces.
"Lottery is like any other kind of consumer product. We have to expend some effort in [research and development] to just keep products relevant."
The Interprovincial Lottery Corp., which represents all provincial and territorial lottery agencies, is looking for consultants who can come up with ideas for a new game similar to Lotto 6-49, in which players select numbers.
A request for proposals says the winning consultant will lead "face-to-face brainstorm … sessions to generate … ideas for a new, national lottery game that will be attractive to the 18-34-year-old player base."
Another task will be to "analyze and understand provided research that has been completed on the motivations and barriers to play for 18-34 year-old lottery players."
It may be a challenge. Statistics on the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.'s website indicate that among Ontarians who buy lotto tickets at least once a week, only 13 per cent are under 35. The mean age of players who take part at least once a week is 52.
Across the country, the decline is sharp.
"The two national lottery products (Lotto 6-49 and Lotto Max) are experiencing historic levels of decline for the young adult demographic … by anywhere from 8-31 per cent," says the request for proposals.
"If we do not attract younger players … to play lottery games, over time the lottery business is at risk of decline."
Sally MacDonald, a 32-year-old social service worker in Winnipeg, is one of the many millennials who are not interested in lottery tickets. She says the long odds are a prime reason.
"There's no results from it. I've watched my dad play 6-49 for years and years, and he's maybe won $500."
MacDonald says people her age get more enjoyment out of surfing the Web and filling out online questionnaires on sites such as Buzzfeed, where one recent page asked readers what actress would portray them in a movie of their life.
"You look at how many people do those Buzzfeed quizzes because there's something funny or entertaining out of it, right? But something like a lottery ticket, unless you're winning, you're not getting entertained."