SC lottery error prompts class-action lawsuit

Jun 2, 2018, 9:10 am (19 comments)

South Carolina Lottery

It was Christmas Day in South Carolina and plenty of people were feeling lucky. For just $1, they could buy a ticket for Holiday Cash Add-A-Play at their local convenience store. The ticket looked a bit like a tic-tac-toe game: get three Christmas trees in a row on a nine-space grid and you won, maybe 2 or 20 bucks. Get all nine Christmas trees to fill the grid entirely and you won the $500 jackpot. The odds of that happening were 1 in 4,800.

But something amazing started happening at exactly 5:51 p.m. on Christmas: practically everyone, it seemed, was winning the big jackpot.

Word got around quickly.

People flocked to lottery outlets dotting street corners and interstates all across South Carolina, as though it was the night before a hurricane. The lottery machines started running out of tickets, one gas-station attendant said.

In just two hours, lucky South Carolinians had purchased some 71,000 tickets, racking up more than $35 million in prize money. A Christmas miracle.

"I was calling everyone I knew," one of the winners, Nicole Coggins, said. "I won $500!"

She played again. "And it was another winner and another winner. So I thought, 'Well maybe there is something wrong with the machine. This can't be real."

It wasn't real. There was, in fact, something wrong.

As the happy prize winners were soon to discover, it was a glitch. The local news liked to call it the glitch that stole Christmas.

On Wednesday, the South Carolina Education Lottery announced that, because the glitch caused scores of erroneous winning Holiday Cash Add-A-Play tickets, the thousands of people who won $500 that day would not be getting their money.

(See South Carolina Lottery says no prize for 71,000 'winning' tickets, Lottery Post, May 30, 2018.)

The statement explained:

"Coding errors by SCEL's former computer gaming vendor, and the vendor's inadequate quality assurance testing that would have discovered these errors prior to deployment of this game. These actions caused approximately 71,000 plays (wagers) to be erroneously produced, issued and printed with nine (9) Tree symbols, which were incorrectly recognized as a $500 winning play. Regrettably, these errors by the former vendor led loyal players to mistakenly believe that they held winning tickets."

Retailers paid out at least $1.7 million to people who cashed in immediately, before the glitch was caught. SCEL said its vendor that provided the computer software, Intralot, suspended the game about 7:53 p.m. once it realized what was happening.

So when winners started filing up to the counter to claim their prizes, the cashiers read back to them the message that popped up on their screens: "transaction not allowed." The tickets were invalid.

South Carolina law does not allow the state to pay lottery winners prize money if their tickets were produced in error, the SCEL statement says.

The state lottery commission is seeking to force Intralot (which is no longer the vendor) to reimburse the state for the $1.7 million in paid-out tickets.

The unlucky ones who couldn't cash in immediately will get a grand total of one dollar, a refund of the ticket price.

Coggins has filed a class-action lawsuit against the South Carolina Lottery Commission and Intralot, claiming that refusing to pay the prize money that she lawfully won is a breach of contract. In other words, the glitch wasn't the players' problem. It is one of two lawsuits pending in state courts over this glitch.

Coggins said she planned to use the $18,000 she thought she won that day to take the kids to Disneyland, among other things. Berry Pickens said that he and his wife planned to use the $10,000 they won to prepare for their fourth child on the way and save up for the kids' college funds. And Bridget Castrillon said she was banking on that money to pay the bills that month.

But the attorney for South Carolina Lottery Commission has urged players to look at this situation another way: They were never real winners to begin with.

"When they look back at the game specifications and they realize that that document in their hand should have never come out of that machine," Tim Madden said, "then they will say, 'those things happen,' and the lottery did what they were supposed to do."

The Ledger


Raven62's avatarRaven62

Was it a Glitch or Poorly Written, Poorly Tested Coding?

ekem6078's avatarekem6078

I would've been one of those who cashed in early lmbo.  Congrats to all those who did.  PartyHappy spending


The only people who win in a class action lawsuit are the attys. 

Coin Toss's avatarCoin Toss

If you nook it and it wins, pay it.

picktowin's avatarpicktowin

To me thatst tuff beans !!

The lottery screwed up to bad.

People should get their money.

zephbe's avatarzephbe

Intralot was in dispute with SCEL during this time because the state had decided to switch to another vendor-IGT. So was it an error or deliberate on their part?


Coffins  must have been  listening to the song by the Whites Stripes, before she brought her class action lawsuit...

" I'm gonna fight them all

A seven nations army couldn't hold me back..

And I'm talking to myself at night

Because l can't forget "

                                        - Seven nation army-

music*'s avatarmusic*

Quote: Originally posted by zephbe on Jun 2, 2018

Intralot was in dispute with SCEL during this time because the state had decided to switch to another vendor-IGT. So was it an error or deliberate on their part?

I Agree! This could be sabotage. 

 Did anyone contact SCEL when all these winners showed up for payment? I think that the retailers have a duty to report any major event like this to SCEL. 

Let It All Out

play4shekels's avatarplay4shekels

Let's turn the table around and suppose, for a minute, that the game wasn't printing enough winners. Does anyone honestly think that the lottery would shut the game down at that point? I think we all know the answer to that! Stay away from "instant" terminal games and any add-ons that don't increase your chances to win your game or multiply your winnings. That's like playing poker even though you know the deck is stacked.

Groppo's avatarGroppo


This is a tough one, isn't it? 

NOT REALY, BECAUSE . . . . . .

The Judge, if the corrupt state insists, and it ever gets to court, should rule that the winning players are all owed the same amount (according to how much was wagered, of course).   Bang The Gabel.  (sp. gabbel?  gable?)  End of story

Because think about it:

To hell with the what the state "now complains". 
They should have made it a ping pong ball game to cover their a**es better

What? Not enough state funds for that?
I hope the winners get every single dollar they're owed.

And none of this:  "Didn't cash it in early enough?  Too bad."

Otherwise, it sends an erroneous message to the school children, since
SCEL is for the Education Lottery.  It'll re-enforce in them with dishonesty, welching and so forth, if the state lotto gets its way.

(It won't necessarily improve the character of today's kids, but at least the foundation's integrity will remain in tact.)

Only honest actions can make this story eventually dissappear from peoples' memories.


Mr. Groppo

music*'s avatarmusic*

Groppo,  I think the word you are looking for is, "Gavel".


Quote: Originally posted by Raven62 on Jun 2, 2018

Was it a Glitch or Poorly Written, Poorly Tested Coding?

They didn’t do proper security checks. It was an error on the Intralot’s part.


Quote: Originally posted by zephbe on Jun 2, 2018

Intralot was in dispute with SCEL during this time because the state had decided to switch to another vendor-IGT. So was it an error or deliberate on their part?

Thank you zephbe, my point exactly. The Lottery is clearly distancing themself from this. Wins due to ‘Malfunction’ or ‘Error’ shall not be paid. The not paying out part, the termination of Intralot,  and the refund part shows their stance on the matter. I’m not sure what the class action is about or how they are going to go about making a point that’s relevant. It’s shocking to me that the lottery paid out so much before they realized there was a problem.


There have even been scratch off prizes produced in error and not paid out.

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