AMHERST – The Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers Toonie Draw has gone to levels it has never seen before.
Next week’s draw, on Tuesday, will be worth an estimated $83,000 after the number drawn earlier this week was not played. If it had been played, the winner would have received approximately $67,000.
“We’ve never seen it this high before,” Ramblers vice-president Keith Blenkhorn said. “If it had went on Tuesday it would’ve been the highest prize since we started the draw. The previous high was $63,000.”
The way the draw works is participants buy numbers that are theirs until they give them up. When a number is drawn each week, it is checked against a master list to see if it has been played that week – either by dropping a Toonie in one of several purple boxes around the county, going to the Toonie office on Industrial Park Drive or by paying for several weeks in advance.
If the number drawn hasn’t been played, the money for that week’s draw goes over to the next week and continues until the winning number is played.
While the number of players who play their numbers varies from week to week it generally averages about 60 per cent of the 21,000 numbers. The last draw saw 72 per cent play and Blenkhorn is expecting the number to be as high, if not higher for the next draw.
For that reason, the Toonie office will be open on Monday for people to play their numbers.
“We’re urging anyone who has a number to play it. Or, if you have a number and want to give it up come into the office to surrender it. We have to have a signature before someone can give up a number,” Blenkhorn said.
The Ramblers are not issuing any new numbers for the draw, even though the Toonie office and Blenkhorn have been getting calls and emails from as far as Ontario from people wanting to buy a number.
“Right now we have 200 on the waiting list, but we are not giving out any numbers until others surrender theirs,” he said.
While there were comments after Tuesday’s draw that the Ramblers should draw a number until there’s a winner, he said it’s not that easy. The team has to get permission from the gaming commission before it can change the draw as was done during draws before Christmas, where a number was drawn until a winner was found.
One thing is clear, the draw has made a huge difference in the club’s financial position and has done much better than thought when Blenkhorn and former president Jim Henwood got the idea from the Boys and Girls Club in Summerside, P.E.I.
“When we started I hoped we’d make $1,000 a week,” Blenkhorn said. “It took us a couple of times to get it approved by the board and even when we did, there were members of the board who never thought we’d make more than $100 a week.”
When the Toonie Draw started in February 2013, the first winner received $203 and the second draw was for $218 before steadily climbing steadily to exceed $20,000 in late 2014.