Troubleshooter: Lottery woes

February 17, 2008 9:00:00 PM PST
The lottery is less than two years old, and there have been problems. Yes people have won millions, but along with those winners, there's at least one loser who blames equipment problems for his loss.

Mark Verderber told Troubleshooter Diane Wilson, "I woke up looked on the internet and said hey I won $40.00." At least for a brief while thought his number hit the pick three on November 22nd. He adds, "I handed the man the ticket and he says you didn't play for this night and I said yes I did." Mark said he played his lucky numbers at a Wake Forest convenience store on the 22nd of November, he says this is his play card from that day. But when Mark took a closer look at his winning ticket he saw it actually said the 25th, instead of the 22nd. He said, "I talked to people at the store they told me some dirt was on the lense."

So Mark called the Lottery Commission. He tells Troubleshooter Diane Wilson, "The investigator called me said he'd be right on it, he'd take care of me and find out what's going on." But that investigation didn't give Mark the answers he wanted to hear. He adds, "I said isn't that a malfunction with the machine it printed out the wrong ticket, and he said no that's not a malfunction he said it's your responsibility to look at the ticket. So you're saying you don't' take any responsibility for cleaning of machines and he said he don't own the machines, somebody else's problem."

That someone else is GTECH. GTECH is a company the Lottery Commission pays to take care of all the lottery equipment issues. In fact, GTECH even owns all the machines so the state has nothing to do with it. We looked at hundreds of emailed complaints from lottery players and we found angry people fed up with broken machines. One email said, a Wake County store's printer hasn't worked right for months and it takes a half hour just to buy 5 tickets due to the printer jamming. Another player complained he has stopped playing at a Raleigh store saying whenever he fills out play slips to pick particular numbers the machine prints out entirely different numbers.

Since the lottery started, GTECH has fielded almost 23,000 calls from retailers with equipment problems. GTECH couldn't fix more than eight thousand of the problems over the phone so they had to send a technician to the store. In almost three thousand of the calls, the equipment was so messed up that GTECH had to trade it out for a new piece.

A GTECH spokesman says the levels of problems are not unusual for a system of this size. He adds the machines are routinely tested and says the problems are typically human error either with the retailer or player. But that's little consultation for Mark. He tells Troubleshooter Diane Wilson, "It's not about the money, it's about them taking the responsibility for these games, because if it happened to me, happened to hundreds of people. It makes me lose faith in the lottery because they don't back up their own games."

The lottery commission did investigate Mark's claim. Through their investigation, they were not able to verify Mark's claim since there's no proof he meant to play the 22nd instead of the 25th. They also watched video of the purchase at the store that sold Mark the tickets, and found no evidence of problems with the machine. But they do remind all us all; it's the player's responsibility to look at each ticket before leaving the store. Bottom line, you can't assume you automatically get your lucky numbers.


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