As much as corporations love to brag and boast about their perfect, squeaky clean business systems, we know that if you peeked behind the curtain at a lot of companies the truth is actually very different. Let’s see how some lottery operators really blew it when it came down to the wire.
1. The Danish Billionaire Scandal
In March 2012, three hundred Danes thought they’d won enough money to last them a lifetime and then some on the lottery EuroJackpot. Sadly they were brought back down to earth with a bump shortly after when they learnt their actual prizes wouldn’t even pay for a weekend break.
State lottery company Danske Spil blamed “human error” for the glitch that sent out hundreds of notifications promising huge jackpots ranging from 1 billion Danish crowns (£199.3 million) to 280 billion (£33.4 billion). The lottery firm shattered the 302 winners’ dreams via email an hour and a half later, explaining they had won, but were not billionaires.
“All won prizes but not billions of crowns,” Thomas Rorsig, spokesman for Danske Spil, said. “The correct winnings were typically 200, 300 or 400 crowns (around £24 to £48)”.
Nothing like it had ever happened at Danske Spil, he said, “and I hope it never does again.”
Danske Spil is the only company in Denmark that allows luck-based gambling, excluding casino games. All scratch cards, bingo and lottery are offered exclusively by Danske Spil in Denmark. Until January 2012, Danske Spil was the only licenced gambling game operator in Denmark.
2. Camelot plays mean after lotto miscalculation
In October 2013, UK Thunderball operator Camelot had their own lottery snafu after an ad campaign seriously misjudged its jackpot prize.
National Lottery organisers advertised that £6.2M would be the jackpot prize in the run-up to the draw on October 19, with then broadcaster Chris Evans telling viewers “£6.2million, here we go everyone” as he released the balls during the live draw.
But when a 12 colleague work syndicate stepped forward to claim one out of the three winning tickets, Camelot told the group that despite going public with the £6.2M figure, it had actually calculated the jackpot incorrectly and would only be giving out a total of £4,860,213.
One group member was deeply shocked, saying in a statement;
“After the draw, they put up the £6.2million figure on their website – it is not estimated after the draw has taken place. It has taken away the whole excitement of winning. I cannot see how a big company could make such an error.”
Camelot did not reverse their decision to pay the £6.2M advertised amount, citing “human error” for the mistake. In 2014, Camelot was fined £100,000 for miscalculating the jackpot prize.
A Camelot spokesman said:
“The draw itself was conducted entirely in line with National Lottery Game Rules and Procedures, and all other prize tier amounts were calculated and communicated accurately.
“We are very sorry for what has happened and have apologised personally to the winners – and are conducting a thorough review to prevent such a mistake happening again.”
Unfortunately, the problems compounded from there. Camelot was fined twice in 2016; £300,000 in July, after it emerged that incorrect Lotto Millionaire Raffle results were published on the National Lottery website for an hour-long period, and a further £3M in December 2016 after the operator was found to have paid out £2.5M on a deliberately damaged ticket back in 2009. That same month the UK Gambling Commission announced an investigation into the lottery operator, which resulted in an additional fine of £1.15m by the regulator for “historic control and governance failings”, citing multiple points of negligence, including a software problem that labelled winning results as non-winners; and contractual failings with the British Post Office.
3. Machine misprint leads to $2M in damages
In January 2008 a Sydney pensioner was awarded $2 million in damages by the New South Wales Supreme Court after a 3-year court battle.
Werner Reinhold successfully sued NSW Lotteries and the newsagency that sold him a winning lottery ticket after accidentally cancelling it.
The 73-year-old bought an Oz Lotto ticket in south-west Sydney on 19th September 2005, but the ticket did not print correctly and he was issued another, which won the $2 million jackpot.
But when Mr Reinhold returned to the store to check the ticket, he discovered the replacement he had been given by the store clerk was the one that had been cancelled.
NSW Supreme Court Justice R. Barrett awarded Mr Reinhold $2 million in damages, despite finding he had no claim on the $2M prize, stating;
“Mr Reinhold has failed in his claim to enforce the contract to which he, lotteries and the newsagents were parties by means of an order that lotteries pay him the prize of $2 million that would have been payable in respect of the entry reflected by ticket B had ticket B not been cancelled,” Justice Barrett said in his judgment.
“Mr Reinhold has also failed in the claim, pressed also by the newsagents, to have the electronic records of lotteries rectified in a way that would lead to such an order.
“But Mr Reinhold has succeeded in establishing liability of lotteries and the newsagents for both breach of contract and negligence such as to entitle him to judgment for damages in the sum of $2 million.”
The court ordered NSW Lotteries pay 90% damages to the plaintiff, with the newsagency paying the remaining 10% cost.
4. Won a Corvette? Sorry. All Sold Out.
A scratchcard promising a top prize of $250,000 plus a new 2021 C8 Corvette was won by a man in Georgia, US at the start of this year. The winner, Mr D Kahler, was reportedly a long time fan of the manufacturer and was overjoyed that he was going to be the owner of a brand new Corvette C8 Stingray.
The C8 Corvette is a hot commodity in the motor world in 2021. It debuted in 2020 and is the first-ever Chevrolet with a mid-engine design. It’s a historic car and people are banging down Chevy dealerships’ doors for the 2021 models.
On top of being one of the most sought after vehicles for 2021, a United Auto Workers strike and then weeks of COVID-related plant closures and subsequent parts shortages have held back production on the new model. So, naturally, the Georgia Lottery is having some trouble finding a dealer that can supply its winner.
Unfortunately, it seems that the Georgia Lottery failed to anticipate the demand for the latest model Corvette nor the complications that would arise for choosing Chevy as their carmaker of choice, as the dealership the state lottery had partnered with wanted a $10,000 markup for the trouble of sourcing the model, at the winner’s expense.
The peeved prize winner wasn’t having any of that, so it looked like he’d have to wait until at least the third quarter of 2021 before his Corvette of choice arrived in his driveway.
The man’s story went viral overnight after a post on social media, and plenty of Chevrolet dealerships came forward to offer similar Stingrays. Shortly thereafter, Jim Ellis Chevrolet in Atlanta, Ga offered the best deal, a Stingray at MSRP with a March delivery date.