The Nebraska Lottery sent out flawed scratch-off tickets, leading scores of people to believe they had won prizes up to $40,000, but Nebraska laws states clearly that malfunction voids all pays. (Image: Lendedu)
In September, players believed they had won prizes ranging from a few dollars to $40,000 on the Nebraska Lottery’s $5 Holiday Bonus Bucks scratch-off game, but it was all in their heads.
Lottery services provider International Game Technology had inadvertently flooded the market with misprinted tickets that created way more winners than the Nebraska Lottery expected or was prepared to honor.
Lottery officials said they canceled the game within two hours of its launch because they realized too many players were winning large prizes. Within that timeframe, 405 tickets had been sold.
IGT said in a statement issued through the Nebraska Lottery that the fault was one of “image synchronization,” which means some symbols appeared in the wrong grids, creating winners where there were none. The mistake was undetectable because — obviously — the symbols were concealed by the scratchable latex film on each ticket.
Cruel as it sounds, Nebraska law states the Lottery is under no obligation to pay out prizes when errors have occurred in games.
Lottery officials are now asking players to return the tickets, which will be redeemed for compensatory scratch coupons.
It’s not all bad, though. Of the 150 so far returned, 18 proved to be actual legitimate winners.
Jingle All the Way
The episode has echoes of an even crueler seasonal scratch-off fiasco that occurred on Christmas Day, 2017 in South Carolina, when the state lottery’s Greek service provider, Intralot, accidentally printed 71,000 winning tickets, creating around $35 million in illusionary prizes.
In fact, every single ticket that went out for sale in the Holiday Cash Add-A-Play game was a winner. South Carolinians might have thought Christmas had come early, were it not actually Christmas.
South Carolina’s laws are not so cut and dried as Nebraska’s when it comes to glitches voiding all pays, leaving the state lottery commission with a severe headache. It has since parted company with Intralot.
In May, after much soul-searching, the commission decided it would not pay out on the tickets. It would merely refund the $1 price of each ticket to customers.
Several lawsuits are in the works.