COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Five months after dozens of South Carolina residents believed they won money from a Christmas-themed lottery game that ended up being a glitched out mess, state lottery officials say they will not be paying up for tickets they believe were printed in error.
The South Carolina Education Lottery's board met Wednesday, looked over a full report from an independent investigator, and discussed its findings with their attorney on the drama surrounding the Holiday Cash game.
The game gave players the opportunity to win up to $500 if Christmas tree markers matched up on a tic-tac-toe styled game map. According to lottery officials, the same play symbol was repeated in all nine play areas on the ticket. That ticket would result in the top prize of $500. A vast majority of those tickets will not be awarded, lottery officials said.
Instead, according to the lottery, those who purchased a ticket between 5:51 p.m. and 7:53 p.m. will only be reimbursed for the purchase price of the ticket. For the first time, lottery officials now say approximately 71,000 erroneous tickets were produced during that time period.
SCEL Board of Commissioners voted to reimburse the purchase price paid by each Holiday Cash Add-A-Play ticketholder bought on December 25, 2017 on or after 5:51 p.m. because these tickets were produced or issued in error. This decision is required by South Carolina Code Section 59-150-230(C)(3)(a) which provides that prizes arising from a ticket produced or issued in error must not be paid.
Lottery officials provided an explanation for their decision, citing the aforementioned report that indicated "coding errors by SCEL's former computer gaming vendor, and the vendor's inadequate quality assurance testing that would have discovered these errors prior to deployment of this game."
"I want to be optimistic because this is beyond law or anything else. It's common sense," winner Gwendolyn Bobo said. "It's just reasoning and doing what's right."
We also learned the lottery has been sued twice because of the mess-up. One suit has been filed in Sumter County, and a class-action has been filed in Richland County.
Lottery officials had previously set aside at least $19.6 million to award for claims.
If you were one of the customers who played Holiday Cash during the 2-hour period of time where erroneous tickets were printed, you can seek a refund for your ticket at SC Education Lottery, PO Box 11039, Columbia, SC 29211.