llinois Lottery bounces checks; Iowa Lottery jackpot claim sparks intrigue

illinois-iowa-lotteryThe Illinois Lottery is red-faced after admitting it bounced checks worth $159k owed to “about 85” scratch-off ticket winners. Lottery spokesman Mike Lang said the cock-up resulted after a computer file routinely sent to the bank at 2pm every day went unsent on Dec. 28, an oversight Lang blamed on short-staffing due to the holidays. (So hard to get quality office drones these days.) Lang also told the Chicago Tribune that the Lottery “had some checks that, from the consumer’s, the player’s perspective, bounced.” See, it’s all a question of perspective. If you look at it from the perspective of people who weren’t given bad checks, there was no problem whatsoever.

The Lottery has pledged to cover any associated bank fees and sent out free tickets to those affected as an apology. It’s worth nothing that when the US Department of Justice issued its seismic new opinion on the limitations of the 1961 Wire Act, it was responding to inquiries by two state lotteries that wanted to sell tickets online — one of those states being Illinois. Say, you don’t think this was the ‘confusion’ the American Gaming Association was predicting if state lotteries launched their own online poker systems, do ya?

Over in Iowa, the winner(s) of a $14.4m lottery jackpot have caused no shortage of intrigue by their odd behavior in claiming their prize. The jackpot was drawn Dec. 29, 2010 but had gone unclaimed, and the millions were scheduled to be put back into the state’s coffers unless the winner(s) stepped forward by 4pm on Dec. 29, 2011. Two hours before the deadline, Des Moines-based lawyers acting on behalf of something called Hexham Investment Trust brought the winning ticket to the Iowa Lottery offices.

The ticket was signed by Hexham’s trustee, a lawyer from Bedford, NY named Crawford Shaw. Turns out Shaw had contacted Lottery officials two days prior, but it’s still unclear why he chose to wait so long before acknowledging possession of the ticket, nor why he chose to send the ticket to Iowa via FedEx with just 48 hours to go until the deadline. As Lottery spokeswoman Mary Neubauer told the Associated Press: “It’s amazing things were cut that close. What if something had gone wrong? What if there had been a snowstorm?” (And what if, like the Illinois Lottery staffers, the FedEx guys simply were too full of figgy pudding to mind their responsibilities that day?)

On Jan. 4, Shaw told the AP he was not the winner of the ticket, but that he would personally come to Iowa on Tuesday or Wednesday to identify the members of the trust to Lottery officials. While Shaw admitted the intrigue had created “an interesting situation,” he thought “everything will be OK when all the facts are put on the table.” Neubauer says the Lottery won’t pay anyone a dime until officials are satisfied “there has been nothing amiss with the purchase of this ticket or with the possession of this ticket up to and including the time it was presented.” Publicly, at least, Shaw is saying only that “I didn’t steal for anybody.” Curiouser and curiouser…