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Oilers increase capacity for 50/50 raffle ahead of Game 4 against Blackhawks

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation says its server provider has increased capacity for its online 50/50 raffle for Friday's hockey game.

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation says its server provider has increased capacity for its online 50/50 raffle for Friday's hockey game.

On Wednesday, officials said the draw "shattered an all-time record" and had to close early after it reached the server provider's maximum allowable ticket sales.

"We are so gratified to our fans right now to have stepped up like this," Janet Riopel, board chair of the community foundation, said Thursday.

"We were excited to get this online opportunity, but wow. We were excited to get hub city ... but wow, this opportunity is extraordinary. We're so, so fortunate."

The Oilers Entertainment Group said the final jackpot for Game 3 of the Oilers-Blackhawks series was more than $5.4 million, with one lucky winner taking home about $2.7 million. No winner has been announced.

Monday night's raffle for Game 2 of the series beat the previous record for the largest sports raffle as the pot surpassed $3.2 million.

The previous record was held by Toronto Raptors fans when a 50/50 raffle reached $2 million during the 2019 NBA Finals, the year the team won the championship.

Natalie Minckler, executive director of the Oilers foundation, said it had no expectations for its 50/50, which was made possible after Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis approved online sales in July.

"We had not put revenue projections on it because it was new for us," she said. "We were unsure so we were a little bit conservative. We certainly were not expecting to see the type of volumes that we have."

Minckler said staff have been working around-the-clock with their service provider, Ascend Fundraising Solutions, to increase the capacity in time for Friday's game.

Officials said they added 2 1/2 times more capacity to the maximum allowable ticket sales.

"The expectation is — although Oilers fans have proven they can shatter all expectations — that the server will have the capacity to handle demand," said Tim Shipton, senior vice-president of communications for the Oilers Entertainment Group. 

Both Riopel and Minckler said the money raised through the online raffles will be used by the foundation to support organizations focused on vulnerable populations in downtown Edmonton and youth sports throughout northern Alberta.

Minckler added that the foundation is overwhelmed by the support from Albertans.

"It's been amazing to see the reaction and the support from Oilers fans across the province for this program," she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 6, 2020

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

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