Hospital lottery loses $3 million; out of lotto business

Lottery featured Parksville vacation home

The Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation is out of the lottery business after suffering a $3 million loss on its B.C. Vacation Home lottery, said president and CEO Adrienne Bakker on Wednesday.

But despite the deficit, direct donations will not be used to cover the shortfall, she said. The money will come from revenue sources such as hospital parking and television rentals. The foundation will also be able to liquidate some funds from an income portfolio it has.

The foundation was caught off guard when only 44,000 of 120,000 $100 tickets were sold.

For 14 years, RCH and Surrey Memorial Hospital ran a joint lottery, but when it lost $300,000 in 2007, putting the foundation on the hook for half of it, and 11 lotteries on the market, the board decided the lottery business was not a prudent one to be in. But by 2010 it appeared the appetite for one had returned. Since the foundation was on sound footing, the board felt a lottery was something it needed to do to raise funds and awareness for the hospital, said Bakker. So RCHF hired a marketing firm to do research on which way to go.

What emerged was the concept of three vacation homes to be given away in Kelowna, Whistler and Parksville. Early bird prizes included 50 hours on a private jet.

The RCHF lottery also had some stiff competition with five other charities running home lotteries this year. Instead of gambling on the lottery business, the foundation will concentrate on other fundraising efforts.

— New Wesminster News Leader/Black Press