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SC lottery error prompts class-action lawsuit

Jun 2, 2018, 9:10 am

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South Carolina LotterySouth Carolina Lottery: SC lottery error prompts class-action lawsuitRating:

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

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19 comments. Last comment 4 years ago by Bleudog101.
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Raven62's avatar - binary
25
New Jersey
United States
Member #17842
June 28, 2005
148561 Posts
Offline

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

A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

Catch-22: A dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.

Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges: When the republic is at its most corrupt the laws are most numerous.

The best way to learn is to never stop being a student!

    ekem6078's avatar - Lottery-050.jpg
    TN
    United States
    Member #88773
    March 23, 2010
    2388 Posts
    Offline

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

      Avatar

      United States
      Member #164717
      March 12, 2015
      1300 Posts
      Offline

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

        Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
        100
        Zeta Reticuli Star System
        United States
        Member #30469
        January 17, 2006
        11604 Posts
        Offline

        If you nook it and it wins, pay it.

        Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any. So many systems, so many theories, so few jackpot winners. 

        Lep

        There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

          picktowin's avatar - Lottery-022.jpg
          wisconsin
          United States
          Member #49377
          January 28, 2007
          4656 Posts
          Offline

          To me thatst tuff beans !!

          The lottery screwed up to bad.

          People should get their money.

            zephbe's avatar - animal butterfly.jpg
            South Carolina
            United States
            Member #77165
            July 15, 2009
            896 Posts
            Offline

            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?

            Every champion was once a contender who refused to give up.-Rocky Balboa

            “Don’t let someone who gave up on their dreams talk you out of going after yours.” – Zig Ziglar

              Avatar
              * In hot pursuit of $ *
              White Shores- California
              United States
              Member #136471
              December 12, 2012
              6762 Posts
              Offline

              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-

               * Voice of Reason *   

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

                music*'s avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
                Fresno, California
                United States
                Member #157849
                August 2, 2014
                3959 Posts
                Offline

                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

                 "We are all in this together!" 

                  play4shekels's avatar - redhead
                  Clearwater, FL
                  United States
                  Member #68895
                  January 1, 2009
                  106 Posts
                  Offline

                  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 avatar - cat anm.gif

                    United States
                    Member #162624
                    January 7, 2015
                    780 Posts
                    Offline

                    .

                    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

                    • Don't chase the numbers you play.
                    • Play only numbers you've already played, plus however many random picks.
                    • But, ALWAYS the regular numbers you play.  This will make you a winner, not a chaser.
                               (so far, though, I've yet to win any significant lotto prize)
                    • Oh, but always know where your tickets are, as well as your ticket's deadline.
                      music*'s avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
                      Fresno, California
                      United States
                      Member #157849
                      August 2, 2014
                      3959 Posts
                      Offline

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

                       "We are all in this together!" 

                        Avatar
                        New York, NY
                        United States
                        Member #140628
                        March 23, 2013
                        11326 Posts
                        Offline

                        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.

                        Sometimes you do the right thing just because it’s right.

                        Life's a game of mathematics, if you can't figure that out I don't know what to tell you.

                          Avatar
                          New York, NY
                          United States
                          Member #140628
                          March 23, 2013
                          11326 Posts
                          Offline

                          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.

                          Sometimes you do the right thing just because it’s right.

                          Life's a game of mathematics, if you can't figure that out I don't know what to tell you.

                            Avatar
                            New York, NY
                            United States
                            Member #140628
                            March 23, 2013
                            11326 Posts
                            Offline

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

                            Sometimes you do the right thing just because it’s right.

                            Life's a game of mathematics, if you can't figure that out I don't know what to tell you.