Personal Finance 

Should Casinos and Lotteries Pay Out Errors?

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There is yet another “I won a couple million bucks, oh wait no I didn’t there was a malfunction” article in the news, this time it’s with a misprint on a scratch off ticket in Florida. This reminds of the more often than funny times it’s happened with a slot machine malfunction where the payout never occurs (though casinos have the BS disclaimer posted that they will not pay out malfunctions, lottery tickets likely don’t say that they don’t pay out misprints), but it got me to wondering… should they own up to these mistakes? Even if they’re not responsible?

I think they should for a couple of reasons. First, these happen so infrequently that I doubt it would hurt their bottom line to pay out these malfunctions and misprints. Second, it’s not the buyers fault, it’s the casino’s fault for not vetting out the software good enough to find these mistakes. Thirdly, it’s unfair to the customer, who has just has just ridden this emotional roller coaster to the top, who now has to watch it all come crashing down.

Ultimately, they don’t pay, because casinos and lotteries are evil and they’re designed to trick you into giving them their money. So… once they’ve tricked you, why would they pay out if they can find a legal way to keep their hard tricked money?

{ 8 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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8 Responses to “Should Casinos and Lotteries Pay Out Errors?”

  1. pcooper says:

    I suspect that the fine print on the back of scratch tickets does say that they won’t pay out misprints, altered/multilated tickets, or the like. At the very least, I bet it says its “subject to current lottery rules” or somesuch, where they can list all the restrictions they want, probably including “our decision is binding and final”.

  2. CK says:

    Unfortunately they don’t pay for malfunctions, misprints and the like as a safeguard against scammers. If they did pay for the like it would leave a hole wide open for the bad guys to walk through.

  3. Amanda says:

    I think that in any situation like this – beyond the lottery or gambling – integrity matters.

    For instance, back when I was in High School, a friend of mine received an acceptance letter to a prestigious west coast university to which she had wanted to go all her life. Naturally, she was thrilled. Three weeks later, someone from the university called and said there was a mistake, that they accidentally sent her an acceptance letter but she wasn’t actually accepted.
    Should the university have just let her go anyway? I think so…

    This is obviously completely different than what you’re talking about, but it just got me thinking…

  4. dong says:

    I think the casinos should pay something, but I’m not sure if they should be made liable for the complete error. For instance let’s say slot machine malfunction and said that you won 10 trllion dollars, it’d be ludicrous to make the casino liable for that. Howver some maximum cap of say like $1000 seems fair to me.

  5. Tim says:

    you can only be tricked if you actually gamble.

  6. Master Allan says:

    I recall a situation many years ago where a lottery player purchased a ticket and had the computer randomly pick six numbers. To her delight, she won the grand prize, tens of millions of dollars! Then it was discovered the cashier entered the wrong date for the game (who buys a ticket not for this saturday’s drawing but NEXT saturday????). It was a mistake but according to lottery rules the ticket was legit for next week.

    Well she did have a shot at winning the big prize next week too.

  7. It’s a no-brainer, they should pay up as long as the price of the jackpot is within the range of jackpots that the machine usually pays out. For instance, if I’m playing a machine with a $250,000 prize and it says I won 10 trillion (to use Dong’s example), I would expect the $250,000. If it says I won the $250,000 and they say it was a malfunction, they should still pay up the $250,000.

    CK says it is to protect themselves from scammers and such. Well in the casino situation, they can obviously review the tape (and they do) to make sure there was no scam involved. It’s worth noting that these casino operators aren’t throwing people in jail for trying to scam their machines, but instead just claiming that machine malfunctioned. It should be up to the casino to make sure the machines are up to par or buy insurance against the machines’ malfunctions.

    In the case of scratch tickets, they need to insure that they are printing them out correctly. Again, throw the scammers in jail for fraud. However, if they just printed up too many winning tickets, well they should suffer the loss as any other business would do that is negligent about their product.

    Casinos and lotteries are not terribly difficult businesses to run. The effort is basically making sure their games run smoothly and stopping scammers. Sounds like they are trying to get out of the first part of their obligation.

    Lastly, how is the customer supposed to know what’s a malfunction and what’s not.

  8. vivi says:

    In canada, it has been discovered that resellers of lottery tickets were winning hundreds of times more often than the people buying the tickets. There are a lot of scams going on in lotteries, even hospital lotteries,and even ways to pin scratch tickets to discover winning ones. So I don’t buy anymore, I never bought much anyway, but after watching W5, I simply have no trust in lotteries.

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