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Mass. lottery winners cash in on new prize law

Massachusetts LotteryMassachusetts Lottery: Mass. lottery winners cash in on new prize law

Massachusetts lottery winners are rushing to cash in on a recent change in state law that allows them to negotiate with private companies for a lump-sum buyout of all or a portion of their 20-year income stream.

Since November, when the change in the law took effect, nearly 270 lottery winners have made the decision to give up a chunk of their future prize payments in return for a lump sum that can be used for such immediate needs as buying a new house or paying off existing loans and debts.

But not everyone is happy with the new arrangement. Some lottery winners say it's not fair that they have to pay a private company hundreds of thousands of dollars to gain immediate access to their own prizes.

Louise Outing, a 94-year-old retired waitress from Everett, sued the lottery in Norfolk Superior Court late last year in a bid to change lottery policy to cash out her prize immediately. She didn't want to go through the expense of cashing out through a private company and, for obvious reasons, didn't want to wait 20 years to recover the full jackpot.

The lottery prevailed in court, but Outing's attorney, James Dilday, questioned the fairness of the ruling.

''It's her money," he said. ''Let her do what she wants to do with it."

Until late last year, there was no way for a lottery winner in Massachusetts to take a lump sum upfront instead of the 20-year payout. Lottery winners grumbled about the system, but legislation to change it never went anywhere.

Encore Funding of West Palm Beach, Fla., a company that facilitates lump-sum payouts for lottery winners across the country, launched a lobbying effort here to change the law.

''It's a strange form of paternalism in which a state permits its citizens to sell all that they own to buy lottery tickets, but then asserts a caretaker's interest in controlling how and when the winnings are spent," the company said in a commentary on its website. ''The simple fact is that the prizes belong to the winners, and the winners ought to be free to save, spend, or invest in accordance with their own life preferences."

The Legislature, in part motivated by the prospect of a short-term jolt in tax revenues as lottery winners cash out, changed the law last July to permit heavily regulated but privately financed prize buyouts.

The legislation effectively turned lottery winners into bond issuers, selling their future income streams to private companies in return for lump sum payments. The cost of cashing out varies, but lottery officials who have been monitoring the transactions say prize winners give up 7 to 20 percent of their future income stream in return for a lump-sum payout. The average discount rate is 11 percent, the officials said.

In Outing's case, she won a $5.6 million jackpot, but she didn't really win $5.6 million. She won approximately $3.5 million, according to her attorney, which the lottery used to purchase US Treasury bills that would yield payments over 20 years that would add up to $5.6 million.

Dilday said Outing was offered a $3.1 million lump-sum payment by one company, about $400,000 less than her estimated $3.5 million base prize. Dilday said he asked the lottery to give Outing the $3.5 million rather than using the money to purchase a 20-year revenue stream, but the lottery refused.

Lottery officials say they don't offer winners the option of choosing between a lump-sum payout or a 20-year income stream because it would make it impossible to market the lottery effectively.

Beth Bresnahan, the lottery spokeswoman, said big jackpots are the lifeblood of the lottery. She said the minimum jackpot on Megabucks is $400,000 paid out over 20 years, but only $200,000 if cashed out immediately. She said the lump-sum option, which would have to be disclosed, isn't big enough to attract the bettors needed to make the lottery a success.

''It would kill our lower jackpot games," she said.

The lottery does offer a cash-out option on the multistate Mega Millions game, in part because the jackpots are so big to begin with. This week, the Mega Millions jackpot is $120 million over a 26-year payout period, or a $70 million estimated cash option (Source: USA Mega).

The lump-sum payout system created by the Legislature requires that lottery winners hire an attorney, a certified financial planner, and go before a judge before assigning their prize money to one of 15 companies approved by the lottery.

Robin Shapiro, chief executive of Encore Funding, said the companies involved in the business either keep the prize assignments or sell them to insurance companies.

''Think of this as buying an extremely illiquid but relatively low-risk, long-term bond," he said.

For prize winners, negotiating a buyout is a lot like negotiating a mortgage. The goal is to get the best rate possible under the best terms.

''It's no different than going to a Ford dealership and bargaining for a truck," said Bobby Britton, a Stop & Shop employee who won a $4 million lottery prize last April.

Britton was entitled to $200,000 a year for 20 years under the terms of his lottery prize, but he decided to sell seven years of lottery payments (total value $1.4 million) for $1.135 million. ''It enabled me to go out and buy the house of my dreams, make some investments, and start working part time," he said.

In negotiating the deal, Britton said he contacted about eight companies and tried to get them into a bidding war for his money. He said the strategy was successful. The deal he signed with Prosperity Partners Inc. of Lake Park, Fla., in January was about $131,000 more than the initial offer he received.

Britton offered two pieces of advice. He said lottery winners should hire their own attorney and financial adviser and use them. Of the 37 prize assignments that took place on the day he was in court, Britton said he was the only one there with his attorney present.

He also said prize winners should resist taking the cash advances that so many companies dangle in front of them. He said a cash advance typically locks the prize winner into dealing with that company, reducing his or her bargaining power.

Boston Globe

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14 comments. Last comment 12 years ago by CASH Only.
Page 1 of 1

United States
Member #3676
February 10, 2004
425 Posts
Offline
Posted: April 11, 2005, 12:57 pm - IP Logged

So basically its only worth it for the lottery if they can manipulate and lie.  They dont steal enough by having payback %'s of 50%?  It is disgusting. So in Mass between no lump sum, having to pay taxes , and having to pay an outside company to sell your annuity, your packback % is like 25%.  I would rather give money to a charity. Why anyone plays the lottery (myself included) is beyond me.

    Avatar

    United States
    Member #972
    December 30, 2002
    465 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: April 11, 2005, 2:13 pm - IP Logged

    Man, this is slimy, even for Massachusetts. Instead of just giving the winners the money they WON, money that is sitting in STATE controlled accounts, they let them deal with shady private buyout companies to get THEIR MONEY. 

    >Some lottery winners say it's not fair that they have to pay a private company hundreds of thousands of dollars to gain immediate access to their own prizes.

    No, it is not fair. But welcome to Chinatown, I mean Massachusetts.

    >Lottery officials say they don't offer winners the option of choosing between a lump-sum payout or a 20-year income stream because it would make it impossible to market the lottery effectively. Beth Bresnahan, the lottery spokeswoman, said big jackpots are the lifeblood of the lottery. She said the minimum jackpot on Megabucks is $400,000 paid out over 20 years, but only $200,000 if cashed out immediately. She said the lump-sum option, which would have to be disclosed, isn't big enough to attract the bettors needed to make the lottery a success. ''It would kill our lower jackpot games," she said.

    *So what she is saying is "We wouldn't be able to legally lie about the size of the jackpot if we offered the cash, which happens to be the real jackpot."  Great reason. 

    *I ask the lottery to prove that sales would drop if they offered a cash option; my guess is they would increase. What would drop is lucrative contracts to the banks who handle the annuities

    *The jackpot builds, so after a few drawings the cash option would be $400,000+.  And with Mega Millions, people are used to seeing 2 different figures for annuity and cash. 

    *How is Megabucks being marketed now? It isn't being marketed at all.

    The lottery is full of phony baloney lies on this, and deserve to be slammed and boycotted.


      United States
      Member #379
      June 5, 2002
      11296 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: April 11, 2005, 2:20 pm - IP Logged

      tg:

      I've been boycotting Mass Megais bad$ and its annuity-only (and NY a-o) scratch games.

      Support Hot Lotto in New Hampshire.

        Avatar

        United States
        Member #1826
        July 11, 2003
        2645 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: April 11, 2005, 3:25 pm - IP Logged
        Quote: Originally posted by qutgnt on April 11, 2005

        So basically its only worth it for the lottery if they can manipulate and lie. They dont steal enough by having payback %'s of 50%? It is disgusting. So in Mass between no lump sum, having to pay taxes , and having to pay an outside company to sell your annuity, your packback % is like 25%. I would rather give money to a charity. Why anyone plays the lottery (myself included) is beyond me.




        Cash WinFall and Numbers pays 60%. Mass Cash pays about 56%.

        (insert signature here)


          United States
          Member #379
          June 5, 2002
          11296 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: April 11, 2005, 3:32 pm - IP Logged

          Jimmy:

          OT: NY Lotto pays 38%-40%.

            Avatar

            United States
            Member #972
            December 30, 2002
            465 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: April 11, 2005, 4:08 pm - IP Logged

            If I got up to NH often enough to get a ticket, I would play it. Hot Lotto is a game where they get it right - decent odds of winning something, cash option, good size jackpot. 

             

            Quote: Originally posted by CASH Only on April 11, 2005







            tg:

            I've been boycotting Mass Megais bad$ and its annuity-only (and NY a-o) scratch games.

            Support Hot Lotto in New Hampshire.





              United States
              Member #379
              June 5, 2002
              11296 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: April 11, 2005, 4:11 pm - IP Logged

              tg:

              I'm now predicting HL will be replaced by next year with another jackpot game.

                Avatar

                United States
                Member #1826
                July 11, 2003
                2645 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: April 11, 2005, 4:31 pm - IP Logged
                Quote: Originally posted by CASH Only on April 11, 2005

                Jimmy:

                OT: NY Lotto pays 38%-40%.








                CashONLY:

                I Know

                (insert signature here)

                  dvdiva's avatar - 8ball

                  United States
                  Member #2338
                  September 17, 2003
                  2063 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: April 11, 2005, 7:39 pm - IP Logged

                  Good thing I don't live in MA. That would really tick me off. People living there shoud try and complain but I'm sure there are sleezy dealings between the annuity company and people in the lottery commision.

                    Avatar

                    United States
                    Member #972
                    December 30, 2002
                    465 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: April 13, 2005, 9:07 am - IP Logged

                    The thing that bothers me is that the MA lottery will issue checks to persons other than the winner - they are colluding with questionable banking companies in the ripping off of winners.  I would rather have them just stick to the rules as is, as lousy as they are, than make up another lousy rule like this. 

                    >She said the lump-sum option, which would have to be disclosed, isn't big enough to attract the bettors needed to make the lottery a success.

                    I think this statement is a total lie, and I ask the MA lottery to prove it.  Anyone can see that whether the starting jackpot is $200,000 or $400,000, it is no longer the "mega" prize it used to be when it is up against the real mega-prize, MegaMillions, so people aren't likely to view any prize under $1 million as very attractive.  If people want to play a jackpot game with better odds than MegaMillions, I think they will play whether the jackpot is $200,000 or $400,000. Also, having the $400,000 minimum prize wasn't enough to save Mass Millions (which was exactly like Megabucks only with harder odds), so how does that prove that a $400,000 minimum jackpot is the key to success?


                      United States
                      Member #379
                      June 5, 2002
                      11296 Posts
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                      Posted: April 13, 2005, 10:45 am - IP Logged

                      tg:

                      Mass Millions had a minimum jackpot of 50k/20 years.

                        LOTTOMIKE's avatar - cash money.jpg
                        Tennessee
                        United States
                        Member #7853
                        October 15, 2004
                        11338 Posts
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                        Posted: April 23, 2005, 4:22 am - IP Logged

                        new prize laws are good sometimes.....

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                          New Member
                          Florida
                          United States
                          Member #5651
                          July 15, 2004
                          4 Posts
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                          Posted: May 3, 2005, 4:06 pm - IP Logged

                          A lot of people win in MA.  Maybe more than anywhere else.  They might not have it all right, but they have a lot of winners. 

                           Over 200 lottery winners have cashed in/out with third parties since the new law was passed in December.  An expensive and questionable service but a popular one it seems.


                            United States
                            Member #379
                            June 5, 2002
                            11296 Posts
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                            Posted: May 4, 2005, 9:37 am - IP Logged

                            Questionable indeed.