Unlicensed lotteries are a lifeline in Lab West, says resident after RNC warning

·2 min read
Labrador West has seen a rush of social media lotteries in recent months — some as fundraisers for people in need, while others have just been to sell off items. (CBC - image credit)
Labrador West has seen a rush of social media lotteries in recent months — some as fundraisers for people in need, while others have just been to sell off items. (CBC - image credit)

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary has warned residents of Labrador West that illegal social media lotteries are being monitored, but some people say they're not going to stop.

Lotteries are not allowed to be conducted via social media, and only registered charities and non-profits are able to apply for licences.

Robyn Ayles says she knows the rules, but she also knows how much she can raise through social media for people in need, especially when time is of the essence.

"I've just done one for a family who lost their house in a fire," she told CBC News. "Two weeks prior to that, we did another one and paid over $10,000 to a family."

In a Facebook post Saturday, the RNC warned the public that holding an unauthorized lottery is a Criminal Code offence and asked that illegal lottery activity be reported to the police.

But life is expensive in Labrador, Ayles said, and unexpected costs can be debilitating. People often have to travel for medical appointments, and one-way flights can range from $700 to over $1,000 on short notice. In many cases, people step up to run community 50-50 draws, often through social media.

Ayles said there's little time to find a charity or non-profit to get on board and apply for a licence. In these cases, social media lotteries have become a lifeline for people in the midst of crises, she said.

"It's so sad it has to come to that for people to get help," Ayles said.

CBC
CBC

Some lotteries in Labrador West have upped the stakes in recent months. A scroll through social media shows people have been auctioning off their own items — opting to sell $10 tickets on a jacket to 30 people rather than list it for $300, for example. In some cases, people have auctioned off recreational vehicles, and even a cabin.

Ayles said those examples shouldn't lead police to break up the work of people doing grassroots fundraising. As such, she has no plans to heed the RNC's warning.

"If I get pulled into court and questioned, and God forbid, fined or whatever happens, I'm going to stand up proudly and say, 'Hey, I helped Bobby Joe down the road get out to St. John's for his appointment.' It's not going to hold me back. Definitely not."

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