The prizes may not have been the greatest ($100,000 tops) but the Canadian Championship Dog Derby Sweepstake had a romantic aura unknown to far larger
lotteries with their bouncing balls and lucky numbers in lights on national TV.Tickets drawn from a whirling concrete mixer were matched to the 25 leading mushers and their teams of huskies in a three-day, 150-mile race across Great Slave Lake during the annual Caribou Carnival. But last week the sweepstake ran out of luck as the Yellowknife Exhibition Association was hauled ignominiously into court by the attorney-general of Alberta in Camrose, and fined $25 for illegally offering lottery tickets for sale across its southern boundary.
The five-year-old race among sled dog teams from Canada and the United States will continue but the sweepstake, established to raise funds for recreation in the Northwest Territories, is no more. Changes in the Criminal Code in 1976-77 make it illegal for a lottery to sell tickets outside its own province or territory without a reciprocal agreement, YEA Managing Director Peter Mercer says the association felt it was within the law because tickets were sold by mail through national advertising and the money only "changed hands” when the envelopes were opened back home in Yellowknife.
The dog derby sweep can’t operate on its home grounds alone, since there are only 40,000 people in the N.W.T. and last year’s sales totalled 500,000 $2 tickets. Albertans bought almost a third of those, which is clearly why that province isn’t eager for any mutual sales agreement. It has its own pet lotteries (Western Express and The Provincial) and would lose far more than it gained But since profits on the Yellowknife sweepstake dropped disastrously in the past year to less than 10 per cent of sales (most lotter ies aim for 40 to 60 per cent), maybe it was going to the dogs anyway. Susan Rogers
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