(FOX 46 WJZY) — It was the glitch that stole Christmas.
“These are all the winning tickets I have,” said Tony Berry, last month, fanning out dozens of winning $500 tickets. “I have $29,000 worth.”
Berry kept buying tickets – about $80 worth – after he kept winning $500 over and over.
“Did you think at any point something’s not right?,” asked FOX 46 Investigative Reporter Matt Grant.
“Yes I did,” admitted Berry. “But it’s not my fault.”
South Carolina Education Lottery officials will discuss a “programming error” Tuesday that led to thousands of “winning” lottery tickets mistakenly being printed for more than two hours on Christmas day.
Officials have to decide if players, like Berry, should still be paid. Nearly $20 million has been set aside for a potential payout.
According to a meeting agenda, the lottery commission will also discuss canceling its contract with Intralot, the computer vendor lottery officials blame for the snafu.
Intralot has not responded to requests for comment.
“Oh it’s a huge headache,” said Charlotte consumer lawyer Lawrence Wooden. He says the commission is in a no-win situation.
“You’re looking at a commission who’s trying to look out for the best interest of both sides: consumers and state funds,” said Wooden.
Those funds, FOX 46 has reported, could be illegal if paid out. That is because, under South Carolina law, prizes “must not be paid” if the ticket was produced or issued “in error.”
Wodden says lotto lawyers are likely trying to interpret what “in error” means.
“A customer went, paid for a ticket,” he said. “Tickets were printed. Just because they were winning tickets, is that an error?”
Wooden says the commission is likely asking attorneys: if a payout would be legal; if its contract with Intralot can be terminated and at what cost; who is responsible; if Intralot can be held liable for a payout and if this glitch would be considered an “error” under state statute.
“They will likely look more closely at their policies and procedures,” said Wooden. “To insure that these type of situations don’t happen” again,
The lottery commission meets at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday. You can view the special meeting agenda below, or by clicking here.