Welcome Guest
Log In | Register )
You last visited December 4, 2016, 11:27 pm
All times shown are
Eastern Time (GMT-5:00)

Iraqi's Oregon jackpot raises questions on lottery sales

Insider BuzzInsider Buzz: Iraqi's Oregon jackpot raises questions on lottery sales
52
Rating:

SEATTLE — The man from Baghdad showed up unannounced this month in a state office building in Salem, Ore., with a piece of paper in his hand that he said was worth $6.4 million. He politely asked that his name be kept quiet, then told state officials that he had set up a local bank account into which they should deposit money annually. And then he went away, richer and more mysterious than when he arrived.

It was not an ordinary day at the Oregon Lottery.

The story started with small details, lottery officials said, and became bigger from there: The man was 37, an Iraqi Kurd. He had recently arrived in the United States from his home in Baghdad, and he said in fine English that he had won the Oregon Megabucks lottery drawing in late August by possessing the six correct numbers — without ever having visited the state.

The ticket, lottery officials learned, had been bought through thelotter.com, a company based in the island nation of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea, but had been printed out in a little deli on the outskirts of Bend, Ore., called Binky's.

Lottery officials' jaws dropped. Then they picked up the phone, calling the Department of Justice and Interpol. Was the man who he said he was, a successful businessman who had bought his ticket online? Was he on any kind of watch list? And how on earth would a lottery ticket from Binky's, of all places, end up in the possession of a man from halfway around the world?

But there was more: Despite Oregon laws that make lottery winners' names public, the man wanted anonymity. His life, and the lives of members of his family, he said, could be put in danger back home if his new net worth became known.

He told lottery officials that he had set up a bank account in Oregon where he wanted the first of 20 annual payments of $158,720 to be deposited, and that he intended to give the money to his two sons.

Thelotter.com arranges lottery ticket sales from around the world to buyers from all corners. It boasts of having "official tickets for all the world's biggest lotteries" — including Powerball in the United States and EuroMillions in France — as well as "100 percent commission-free wins."

Sean J. Riddell, a lawyer for thelotter, said the Oregon Lottery winner was still in the United States, but declined a request for an interview. Nor, Mr. Riddell said, would the man comment on his work or other details of his life in Iraq, or how he had acquired his visa to come to the United States.

The Oregon Lottery's director, Jack Roberts, said that an investigation was continuing into whether international lottery ticket sales are entirely legal — he said he had his doubts — but that the winner had done nothing wrong as far as anyone could determine. Everything checked out, Mr. Robert said, most crucially the six winning numbers on the ticket.

So the check was cut. Mr. Roberts said "yes" to anonymity, as well, although he added that a court could overrule him if the decision was challenged.

"I didn't want to be responsible if one of his kids gets kidnapped," Mr. Roberts said. "It's my decision that the need for his safety outweighs the public's need to know."

Foreign residents have played and won American state lotteries before. A group of Australians won $27.6 million in the Virginia Lottery in 1992. But that was before Internet commerce or online gambling existed in any widespread form.

In 2012, two foreign residents won prizes through tickets in United States lotteries bought through thelotter, the company said, although those prizes were much smaller than the one claimed by the Iraqi man: $1.25 million between the two winners.

Lottery laws are in many cases decades old and less than clear, legal experts said. Although a few states have experimented with online lottery sales, federal law makes it illegal to sell lottery tickets across state lines unless allowed by both states. Gambling online, with the exception of bets on horse racing, is legal only in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.

But in cases like this, in which the lottery ticket was bought over the counter, not through the Internet, the uncertainty runs deeper still.

"I think thelotter is at best in a gray area of legality," said Keith C. Miller, who teaches gambling law at Drake University in Des Moines.

Another prominent gambling expert, I. Nelson Rose, a professor of law at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, Calif., went firmly the other way.

"I think it probably was 100 percent legal," he said, referring to the Oregon transaction.

Thelotter said in an email that it made no wagers itself, or transferred any lottery tickets by mail or Internet, but that it instead provided what it called "a messenger service," using people who walk into shops like Binky's and plunk money on the counter. On its website, the company says that it makes its money in transaction fees for the ticket purchases and that it collects no percentage of winnings.

"We physically purchase the official tickets through our reliable and secure local offices located in more than 25 countries and make a scanned copy available to the players' secure personal accounts, which confirms their ownership," the company said in an email. "When a player wins, he is entitled to claim the prize in person."

Actual lottery tickets, the company added, are "never owned by us but only kept in a secured location on behalf of the customer until he claims his prize." The company said it had "handed over winning tickets" valued at more than $35 million.

In Oregon, it was up to Mr. Riddell to provide proof that the local chain of custody of the winning ticket was unbroken from its purchase in August until the winner's arrival, just in case any questions arose. He dispatched a private investigator to Bend to make sure. Finally, the ticket went into a bank safe deposit box.

Back at Binky's, Christmas came early with a $64,000 check that arrived out of the blue, a 1 percent bonus from the Oregon Lottery for having sold a winning ticket.

Judie Bell-Putas, 80, who owns the shop with her son — with a grandson behind the counter helping out with soup and sandwiches — said she had no idea who bought the ticket in August on behalf of the company in Malta, and that she did not much care.

"We're going to be using it to take care of the stuff we really need, and keep things going," Ms. Bell-Putas said.

NY Times, Lottery Post Staff

We'd love to see your comments here!  Register for a FREE membership — it takes just a few moments — and you'll be able to post comments here and on any of our forums. If you're already a member, you can Log In to post a comment.

48 comments. Last comment 11 months ago by myturn.
Page 1 of 4
Tialuvslotto's avatar - Jailin
Texas
United States
Member #150797
December 31, 2013
815 Posts
Offline
Posted: December 13, 2015, 4:41 pm - IP Logged

Interesting article.  Probably time to update the laws to account for internet sales internationally -- either to permit them or ban them.

"There is no such thing as luck; only adequate or inadequate preparation to cope with a statistical universe."

~Robert A. Heinlein

    RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
    mid-Ohio
    United States
    Member #9
    March 24, 2001
    19823 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: December 13, 2015, 4:53 pm - IP Logged

    Maybe it should be legal or an American to set up a butler service for lottery tickets and charge 3X the regular price per ticket, at least the profits could be taxed.

     * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
       
                 Evil Looking       

      sully16's avatar - sharan
      Ringleader
      Michigan
      United States
      Member #81740
      October 28, 2009
      40348 Posts
      Online
      Posted: December 13, 2015, 6:25 pm - IP Logged

      " A successful businessman" " With his new net worth" lol,

      I caught that, thanks for the story Todd, clears up some of the mystery. Not all, just some.

      Did you exchange a walk on part in the war ?

      For a lead role in a cage?

       

                                                  From Pink Floyd's " Wish you were here"

        mypiemaster's avatar - 2015021003pileofcash
        JACKPOT HUNTER

        United States
        Member #141034
        April 2, 2013
        1408 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: December 13, 2015, 7:48 pm - IP Logged

        There is nothing questionable about it. A guy walks into the store and purchases some tickets, just like you and I. Before you know it, those nasty politicians with a little p, will try to screw it up for all of us again.

        Seek and ye shall find -Matt. 7:7 ...Ask and ye shall receive -John 16:24 ...Give and it shall be given unto you -Luke 6:38 ...Be careful what you ask for!!! -Mypiemaster 1:1

        Having Money Solves Problems That Not Having Money Creates Yes Nod ****John Carlton****

          noise-gate's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcR91HDs4UJhjxO7cmeMQWZ5lB_FOcMLOGicau4V74R45tDgPWrr
          Bay Area - California
          United States
          Member #136477
          December 12, 2012
          4105 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: December 13, 2015, 8:24 pm - IP Logged

          There is nothing questionable about it. A guy walks into the store and purchases some tickets, just like you and I. Before you know it, those nasty politicians with a little p, will try to screw it up for all of us again.

          I Agree!-...This guy won because the game was advertised where he was. He was convinced that he had as much of a chance of winning as people living in Oregon.End of Story.

          People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

            Avatar
            Kentucky
            United States
            Member #32652
            February 14, 2006
            7298 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: December 13, 2015, 8:40 pm - IP Logged

            "And how on earth would a lottery ticket from Binky's, of all places, end up in the possession of a man from halfway around the world?"

            I could understand if it was the Wyoming or another relatively new state lottery, but someone at the Oregon Lottery should know about lottery butler services. The legality is interesting because the winning ticket never left the U.S. and the butler service charged their fee up front.

            IMO, as for granting anonymity, any future Megabucks jackpot winner now has a claim. Opinions aside, there is no Oregon law preventing butler services from buying and selling tickets or paying foreign players.

              music*'s avatar - nw bookeep.jpg
              Happy California
              United States
              Member #157856
              August 2, 2014
              1511 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: December 13, 2015, 9:03 pm - IP Logged

              Could <snip> have it correct and be leading us into international lottery play? With all the unknown variables becoming known in the future.

               The unintended consequences are mind blowing.What?

              This post has been automatically changed by the Lottery Post computer system to remove inappropriate content and/or spam.

               I've been rich and I've been poor. Believe me, rich is better. 

               Attributed to Joe E. Lewis and others

                MaximumMillions's avatar - Lottery-013.jpg

                Germany
                Member #164603
                March 8, 2015
                604 Posts
                Online
                Posted: December 13, 2015, 10:03 pm - IP Logged

                I wish they (thelotter) bought the PB and MM tickets in Delaware, I might just pay their fee for anonymity.

                  Avatar
                  New Member
                  Washington, DC
                  United States
                  Member #170709
                  December 13, 2015
                  3 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: December 13, 2015, 10:06 pm - IP Logged

                  The man from Baghdad showed up unannounced this month in a state office building in Salem, Ore., with a piece of paper in his hand that he said was worth $6.4 million. He politely asked that his name be kept quiet, then told state officials that he had set up a local bank account into which they should deposit money annually. And then he went away, richer and more mysterious than when he arrived.

                  It was not an ordinary day at the Oregon Lottery.

                  The story started with small details, lottery officials said, and became bigger from there: The man was 37, an Iraqi Kurd. He had recently arrived in the United States from his home in Baghdad, and he said in fine English that he had won the Oregon Megabucks lottery drawing in late August by possessing the six correct numbers — without ever having visited the state.

                  The ticket, lottery officials learned, had been bought through thelotter.com, a company based in the island nation of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea, but had been printed out in a little deli on the outskirts of Bend, Ore., called Binky's.

                  Lottery officials' jaws dropped. Then they picked up the phone, calling the Department of Justice and Interpol. Was the man who he said he was, a successful businessman who had bought his ticket online? Was he on any kind of watch list? And how on earth would a lottery ticket from Binky's, of all places, end up in the possession of a man from halfway around the world?

                  But there was more: Despite Oregon laws that make lottery winners' names public, the man wanted anonymity. His life, and the lives of members of his family, he said, could be put in danger back home if his new net worth became known.

                  He told lottery officials that he had set up a bank account in Oregon where he wanted the first of 20 annual payments of $158,720 to be deposited, and that he intended to give the money to his two sons.

                  Thelotter.com arranges lottery ticket sales from around the world to buyers from all corners. It boasts of having "official tickets for all the world's biggest lotteries" — including Powerball in the United States and EuroMillions in France — as well as "100 percent commission-free wins."

                  Sean J. Riddell, a lawyer for thelotter, said the Oregon Lottery winner was still in the United States, but declined a request for an interview. Nor, Mr. Riddell said, would the man comment on his work or other details of his life in Iraq, or how he had acquired his visa to come to the United States.

                  The Oregon Lottery's director, Jack Roberts, said that an investigation was continuing into whether international lottery ticket sales are entirely legal — he said he had his doubts — but that the winner had done nothing wrong as far as anyone could determine. Everything checked out, Mr. Robert said, most crucially the six winning numbers on the ticket.

                  So the check was cut. Mr. Roberts said "yes" to anonymity, as well, although he added that a court could overrule him if the decision was challenged.

                  "I didn't want to be responsible if one of his kids gets kidnapped," Mr. Roberts said. "It's my decision that the need for his safety outweighs the public's need to know."

                  Foreign residents have played and won American state lotteries before. A group of Australians won $27.6 million in the Virginia Lottery in 1992. But that was before Internet commerce or online gambling existed in any widespread form.

                  In 2012, two foreign residents won prizes through tickets in United States lotteries bought through thelotter, the company said, although those prizes were much smaller than the one claimed by the Iraqi man: $1.25 million between the two winners.

                  Lottery laws are in many cases decades old and less than clear, legal experts said. Although a few states have experimented with online lottery sales, federal law makes it illegal to sell lottery tickets across state lines unless allowed by both states. Gambling online, with the exception of bets on horse racing, is legal only in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.

                  But in cases like this, in which the lottery ticket was bought over the counter, not through the Internet, the uncertainty runs deeper still.

                  "I think thelotter is at best in a gray area of legality," said Keith C. Miller, who teaches gambling law at Drake University in Des Moines.

                  Another prominent gambling expert, I. Nelson Rose, a professor of law at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, Calif., went firmly the other way.

                  "I think it probably was 100 percent legal," he said, referring to the Oregon transaction.

                  Thelotter said in an email that it made no wagers itself, or transferred any lottery tickets by mail or Internet, but that it instead provided what it called "a messenger service," using people who walk into shops like Binky's and plunk money on the counter. On its website, the company says that it makes its money in transaction fees for the ticket purchases and that it collects no percentage of winnings.

                  "We physically purchase the official tickets through our reliable and secure local offices located in more than 25 countries and make a scanned copy available to the players' secure personal accounts, which confirms their ownership," the company said in an email. "When a player wins, he is entitled to claim the prize in person."

                  Actual lottery tickets, the company added, are "never owned by us but only kept in a secured location on behalf of the customer until he claims his prize." The company said it had "handed over winning tickets" valued at more than $35 million.

                  In Oregon, it was up to Mr. Riddell to provide proof that the local chain of custody of the winning ticket was unbroken from its purchase in August until the winner's arrival, just in case any questions arose. He dispatched a private investigator to Bend to make sure. Finally, the ticket went into a bank safe deposit box.

                  Back at Binky's, Christmas came early with a $64,000 check that arrived out of the blue, a 1 percent bonus from the Oregon Lottery for having sold a winning ticket.

                  Judie Bell-Putas, 80, who owns the shop with her son — with a grandson behind the counter helping out with soup and sandwiches — said she had no idea who bought the ticket in August on behalf of the company in Malta, and that she did not much care.

                  "We're going to be using it to take care of the stuff we really need, and keep things going," Ms. Bell-Putas said.

                  I wonder if any questions would have been asked if the winner had arrived from London, Paris or Tel Aviv..!Our prejudices against Muslims show up even at the most unexpected places..Give the winner his money and let cry babies keep on crying..! Let us not change "goal posts" or rules whenever "others" who we'd prefer not to win - become winners..

                    Avatar
                    New Member

                    United States
                    Member #167422
                    July 11, 2015
                    10 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: December 13, 2015, 10:17 pm - IP Logged

                    I posted this to the previous article about the Oregon lotto, and yes I did check my source and chatted with someone in the Lotter.  And so US laws does not allow its citizen to purchase online why does that courtesy apply to other countries? 

                    The LOtter only allows customers to buy if they ARE NOT from the USA.  If you try to register from the states you will not able to get pass log in.   I don't know why Lottery Post even put their banner to support them if it's only for foreigners and not for disable citizens or someone who want the internet convenience - sounds very fishy to me.  If someone from Iraq could buy a ticket online, I feel I should have that right to purchase tickets online and have the same opportunity as a customers like all the customers from the foreign countries especially since I am from this country!  LOTTER --- SOME KIND OF FOREIGN MONEY LAUNDERING BUSINESS- VERY VERY VERY FISHY !!!  I'm not a hater but I think business both online or offline  should expand the same rights to all customers.  I hope someone will start a petition to ban them.  If other countries citizens can buy from the US, we should be able to buy from them as well  wouldn't you think?

                    And as for the person who stated about the bank transaction to register if its legal they would put it on their website now wouldn't they?

                      RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
                      mid-Ohio
                      United States
                      Member #9
                      March 24, 2001
                      19823 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: December 13, 2015, 10:25 pm - IP Logged

                      I posted this to the previous article about the Oregon lotto, and yes I did check my source and chatted with someone in the Lotter.  And so US laws does not allow its citizen to purchase online why does that courtesy apply to other countries? 

                      The LOtter only allows customers to buy if they ARE NOT from the USA.  If you try to register from the states you will not able to get pass log in.   I don't know why Lottery Post even put their banner to support them if it's only for foreigners and not for disable citizens or someone who want the internet convenience - sounds very fishy to me.  If someone from Iraq could buy a ticket online, I feel I should have that right to purchase tickets online and have the same opportunity as a customers like all the customers from the foreign countries especially since I am from this country!  LOTTER --- SOME KIND OF FOREIGN MONEY LAUNDERING BUSINESS- VERY VERY VERY FISHY !!!  I'm not a hater but I think business both online or offline  should expand the same rights to all customers.  I hope someone will start a petition to ban them.  If other countries citizens can buy from the US, we should be able to buy from them as well  wouldn't you think?

                      And as for the person who stated about the bank transaction to register if its legal they would put it on their website now wouldn't they?

                      Your assumptions that only citizens of the U.S. visit LP website are wrong, haven't you noticed that many of the posts are from all over the world?

                       * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
                         
                                   Evil Looking       

                        Avatar
                        New Member

                        United States
                        Member #167422
                        July 11, 2015
                        10 Posts
                        Offline
                        Posted: December 13, 2015, 10:29 pm - IP Logged

                        I was stating a fact about being a US citizen's right to purchase online same as all customers and the fact that this business is run frm a different country other than the US and yet selling US lotteries to everyone else but the US's citizen, funny isn't it?    No there was no assumption!  Maybe some of you here support and build that website and is benefiting from them too? Just saying it doesn't take much to build a website.

                          Avatar
                          Kentucky
                          United States
                          Member #32652
                          February 14, 2006
                          7298 Posts
                          Offline
                          Posted: December 13, 2015, 10:43 pm - IP Logged

                          I wonder if any questions would have been asked if the winner had arrived from London, Paris or Tel Aviv..!Our prejudices against Muslims show up even at the most unexpected places..Give the winner his money and let cry babies keep on crying..! Let us not change "goal posts" or rules whenever "others" who we'd prefer not to win - become winners..

                          "Our prejudices against Muslims show up even at the most unexpected places."

                          To me, it looks more odd that a Baghdad, Iraq resident won an Oregon Lotto jackpot and obviously very logical people have questions. The article doesn't mention religion so any assumptions about prejudices is yours.

                          "I was stating a fact about being a US citizen's right to purchase online same as all customers and the fact that this business is run frm a different country other than the US and yet selling US lotteries to everyone else but the US's citizen, funny isn't it? "

                          Online lottery ticket purchases are not a Right and irrelevant because the winning ticket in this article was not purchased online. You're making an argument about something that never happened.

                            Avatar
                            Kentucky
                            United States
                            Member #32652
                            February 14, 2006
                            7298 Posts
                            Offline
                            Posted: December 13, 2015, 10:58 pm - IP Logged

                            I Agree!-...This guy won because the game was advertised where he was. He was convinced that he had as much of a chance of winning as people living in Oregon.End of Story.

                            Maybe not because there is a possible conspiracy theory; the Oregon drawing is RNG, Tipton sold his "self destruct" program to someone in Oregon who rigged the drawing so the prize money would go to a terrorist organization (don't let the 20 year payments fool you). Wink

                            Hiding Behind Computer