Florida lottery winners suspect state "system error" is blocking prize payouts

May 24, 2024, 7:46 am (17 comments)

Florida Lottery

Winners say the state is claiming they owe money for nonexistent debts

Includes video report

By Kate Northrop

Florida lottery winners are increasingly expressing frustration over the claims process, with many players complaining that the state is blocking prize payouts and issuing notices of owed money for debts that do not exist.

Lottery winners in Florida suspect that an "error" in the state's internal system is causing it to flag individuals for owed debts where none exist, halting prize payouts.

While some Florida residents visited a claim center hoping to leave with a check for their winnings, some walked out of the building with a letter saying that they owe money to the state instead. One young mother, Brittany Wilson, described the feeling of having her winnings snatched from her as a "nightmare."

"It was hard for me during that time," the struggling woman told ABC Action News. "I was financially struggling... something just told me to go to the store and try out my winnings."

Wilson bought a lottery ticket and won a $5,000 prize. It was such a financial relief that she cried tears of joy. She was excited that she would be able to spend some money on her kids, who mean "everything" to her.

"I was thinking about all the bills that I have held up, just paying those off," she continued.

The mood quickly took a downturn when she visited a Florida Lottery District Office on Jan. 3, 2024 and was handed a "Special Circumstances ticket" telling her she may owe "state-owned debt" related to unemployment compensation she may have received in the past.

"This can't be right," Wilson said. In 2023, she had won and collected a $1,000 scratch-off lottery prize without a problem.

She said she never received any call, letter, or email from the state informing her of any debt, adding that she called the Florida Unemployment Assistance Program "almost every day," sometimes "waiting two hours, at the max three, just to speak to someone."

"If you guys [the state] can find out if I'm working or if I'm not working to verify if I qualify for unemployment, you should be able to find some way to reach me," Wilson told ABC Action News. "My email on that site is still the same."

ABC Action News found that more than 530 people had the same issue as Wilson — trying to claim lottery winnings but being told they owed debts related to unemployment that they were either unaware of or positive that they did not owe.

"Something has to be done," Wilson contended. "This cannot keep happening — with the times now, where [the cost of] everything's going up: rent's going up, food's going up. Let me have this money."

Two weeks after Wilson told her story, the state sent her a check for her winnings, and the debt under her name was wiped.

Bob Calamita, another lottery winner in the same boat as Wilson, was adamant that he did not owe money, and yet, he was told he did. In March, he won $1,000 in the lottery but was given a letter saying he owed $3,000 for an unemployment overpayment during the pandemic.

"I stay there about an hour and a half to be told, 'Sorry, you're not getting this because you owe money on the DEO system,'" Calamita told WFLA. "If I owed money, I would have paid it. I have no problem with that, but I didn't owe money."

This week, Calamita said he was told it was a computer-generated error in the state's system that he and hundreds of other individuals were on the receiving end of. It was reportedly an anti-fraud measure implemented by the state that had apparently backfired. Calamita would get his money after all.

VIDEO: Watch the report

Watch on Rumble

Lottery Post Staff

Comments

hearsetrax's avatarhearsetrax

Like California, this doesn't surprise me 

Brock Lee's avatarBrock Lee

most states don't have to do much of anything to boost lottery sales. florida has found a way to make people never play the lottery again.

raincrow

"The best laid plans of mice and men..."

winsumloosesum's avatarwinsumloosesum

Can I check the Florida state website to see if I owe them money before I play the lottery?

DMarshal

Florida...man strikes again.

Lets-win's avatarLets-win

FL lottery is a bunch of crooks. The machines are rigged. Constant repeats. They rarely throw trips or quads. Save your money and play elsewhere.

I live in FL and have more success in other state's.

Bleudog101

Quote: Originally posted by Lets-win on May 25, 2024

FL lottery is a bunch of crooks. The machines are rigged. Constant repeats. They rarely throw trips or quads. Save your money and play elsewhere.

I live in FL and have more success in other state's.

Being lazy here.   Did Florida convert their games to RNG?   If so, we all know that sucks big time.

Cashier$'s avatarCashier$

Quote: Originally posted by Bleudog101 on May 25, 2024

Being lazy here.   Did Florida convert their games to RNG?   If so, we all know that sucks big time.

Hi Bleudog101! The Florida lottery does it the old fashioned way...no RNG. At least for now.

Todd's avatarTodd

Quote: Originally posted by Bleudog101 on May 25, 2024

Being lazy here.   Did Florida convert their games to RNG?   If so, we all know that sucks big time.

No, they did not.  Here are last night's Pick drawings.

Bleudog101

Thanks Todd, wish we'd go back to mechanical ball drawings but they said it is too expensive for that...sure tell me anything KY lottery.

Anyway a feel good story from VA lotto 20 MAY 24 may warrant a story.   He used the Fireball option and hit it BIG!!

 

Jeff

Todd's avatarTodd

Quote: Originally posted by Bleudog101 on May 25, 2024

Thanks Todd, wish we'd go back to mechanical ball drawings but they said it is too expensive for that...sure tell me anything KY lottery.

Anyway a feel good story from VA lotto 20 MAY 24 may warrant a story.   He used the Fireball option and hit it BIG!!

 

Jeff

Yeah, we debunked that "too expensive" thing years ago.  It's easier for the lottery to use computerized drawings, that's for sure.

hearsetrax's avatarhearsetrax

Quote: Originally posted by Todd on May 25, 2024

Yeah, we debunked that "too expensive" thing years ago.  It's easier for the lottery to use computerized drawings, that's for sure.

thats for sure ..... 

few pushes of a few button equals a few million + instant losers or tax cheats  ROFL 

L J1's avatarL J1

Call the Governor's Office. And Get Results to your question(s).

LooneyGambler

 Depending on where your located on the panhandle, you can play the Mississippi, or Georgia Lotteries. Go westward, or northward. Depending on how far you want to drive logistically to play out of state.

Soledad

Quote: Originally posted by Lets-win on May 25, 2024

FL lottery is a bunch of crooks. The machines are rigged. Constant repeats. They rarely throw trips or quads. Save your money and play elsewhere.

I live in FL and have more success in other state's.

Simple math. Don't play trips or quads. That's $10 to $20 a game, or $5 to $10 per game. Simple math. In this game, conspiracy theories run rampant. My comment would be, doesn't the lottery always say, "we're not trying not to pay people." Show me the money.

Mattchu's avatarMattchu

Quote: Originally posted by Bleudog101 on May 25, 2024

Thanks Todd, wish we'd go back to mechanical ball drawings but they said it is too expensive for that...sure tell me anything KY lottery.

Anyway a feel good story from VA lotto 20 MAY 24 may warrant a story.   He used the Fireball option and hit it BIG!!

 

Jeff

Too expensive?  To run a ping pong ball machine?

Lotterologist's avatarLotterologist

Quote: Originally posted by Mattchu on May 28, 2024

Too expensive?  To run a ping pong ball machine?

I guess by "too expensive", they mean too many winners will cut into their take.

End of comments
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