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Mass. Lottery limits track's winning ticket payouts

Sep 24, 2003, 3:40 am

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Massachusetts LotteryMassachusetts Lottery: Mass. Lottery limits track's winning ticket payouts

The Massachusetts lottery will no longer allow the Raynham Park dog track to cash big ticket prizes after a state audit raised concerns that some people use the service to avoid paying taxes.

Raynham Park is the only one of 7,300 sales agents that can cash ticket prizes of more than $600. Under the contract, it can cash ticket prizes up to $25,000.

But the lottery notified track officials on Tuesday that they will have to comply with the $600 limit, effective in three weeks.

Last year, 12 people made half the claims over $600 at the dog track, claiming $2.6 million in prize money, state Auditor Joe DeNucci said in a recent report. That raises suspicions that a small number of people who don't pay taxes are paying cash to buy winning tickets from legitimate players who want to avoid the taxes.

"Auditor DeNucci brought up a lot of issues, (like) the potential for tax evasion," said Karen Sharma, a spokeswoman for state Treasurer Tim Cahill.

Cahill, who oversees the lottery, met track owner George Carney on Monday to discuss the issue.

"Treasurer Cahill wanted to bring this sales agent in uniformity with the rest of the sales agents," Sharma said.

Gary Temple, Raynham's assistant general manager and a spokesman for Carney, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Temple has previously argued that professional cashers, or "10 percenters" - so-called because they charge legitimate winners 10 percent of the winnings so the real winners can avoid up to 30 percent in taxes - should be dealt with by the Department of Revenue.

DeNucci conducted a "transition audit" at the request of Cahill, who took office in January. His report was released Sept. 10.

The audit called on lottery officials to strengthen controls in order to protect public confidence in the $4.2 billion-per-year lottery.


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