Team says technical issues from 'unprecedented demand' left Oilers raffle in limbo

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers' record-setting online 50/50 raffle from Friday with a total estimated pot of more than $15 million remained in limbo on Saturday as officials attempted to sort out technical problems that the team's management says were a result of "unprecedented demand."

In a website post, the Oilers Entertainment Group says its technology provider's servers were overwhelmed with requests to purchase tickets.

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At certain points, it says demand for tickets exceeded $100,000 per minute, causing slow loading times, geolocation errors and duplication of some orders.

It says it's trying to resolve customers issues and is in communication with the province's gaming regulator, but that dealing with the issues "led to a delay in picking the winning number."

Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis says in an email that it has been monitoring the situation and asks for the public to be patient with the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation as they address the issues.

Late Friday the foundation announced the 50/50 was closed in order to process transactions in the queue.

"The integrity of the draw is intact. We apologize for the inconvenience, and the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation will post the winner as soon as possible at EdmontonOilers.com/5050," the update on the team's website on Saturday stated.

Friday's record broke a previous one that was set by another draw Wednesday. That draw had to close early when the server provider reached maximum allowable ticket sales.

Officials had said the provider had increased its capacity by 2.5 times for Friday night's draw, but many people reported on social media that they were having trouble getting through to buy tickets.

Half of the pot raised from the raffles go to the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, which supports organizations focused on vulnerable populations in downtown Edmonton and youth sports throughout northern Alberta.

The Oilers were eliminated from the playoffs Friday when they lost Game 4 of their best-of-five series against the Chicago Blackhawks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 8, 2020.

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