The Oregon Lottery has handed out a $6.4m jackpot to an Iraqi citizen who bought the ticket from an online reseller in Israel.
On Wednesday, Oregon Lottery officials confirmed that an Iraqi citizen had presented himself at their offices holding a Megabucks ticket worth $6.4m. The man had purchased the ticket online from Thelotter.com, an Israel-based site that resells tickets from lotteries scattered around the globe.
Oregon Lottery spokesman Chuck Bauman said a Thelotter.com representative had purchased the ticket in August from Binky’s, a deli in Bend, Oregon. The Israeli site charges its customers a premium for lottery tickets – a 300% markup in the Oregon case – from countries such as Brazil, South Africa and the Ukraine.
Lottery officials said there was nothing in their rules or federal laws that prohibited third-parties reselling tickets in this manner, although one can imagine a serious hissy fit from online gambling foe Sheldon Adelson if the Iraqi jackpot winner had been from neighboring Iran.
Breaking with their traditional rules, lottery officials have agreed to keep the Iraqi winner’s identity a secret. Officials reportedly agreed with the man’s contention that public awareness of his big win could pose a threat to his safety once he returns to his volatile homeland.
ILLINOIS LOTTERY ONCE AGAIN PAYING WINNERS
A little further east, Illinois Lottery jackpot winners got an early Xmas present after being told they will finally receive their long delayed payouts. Squabbling politicians had been unable to reach a deal to craft the state’s operating budget, leaving Lottery officials without the cash to honor any prize obligations larger than $600 since July 1.
On Monday, Governor Bruce Rauner and state legislators finally approved a budget that reopened the money taps to the Lottery. Prize winners have been told that Lottery officials will begin wading through the backlog of payouts starting Dec. 14.
US ONLINE LOTTERY INTEREST SLOWS
Illinois is one of a handful of state lotteries that offer some form of online sales but the momentum of the past few years slowed in 2015 when Minnesota politicians forced their state lottery to shut its online site, which had been the first to offer online instant win products.
Minnesota’s exit leaves just Illinois, Georgia and Michigan in the online lottery space. Michigan was the last state to launch an online lottery in 2014 and, while states like Kentucky and Virginia have publicly mused about joining the party, no other states took their action online in 2015.
Kurt Freedlund, president of Lotto Interactive and the former COO of the Georgia Lottery, told GamblingCompliance that state lottery directors understood that they couldn’t afford to be left out of the online space. But fear of a potential federal ban on online gambling and governors worried about appearing too pro-gaming heading into the 2016 election cycle have contributed to a lack of political enthusiasm for online lottery expansion.