How Are Lottery Wins Investigated and Verified?

Just exactly what are the lottery operators checking when someone wins big?
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  • Author:
    William Monroe
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When someone wins a lottery game’s jackpot, the process they must follow to claim their prize money is not quite as simple as it is for claiming smaller prizes. Depending on the game, it can either be short and streamlined or long and complicated.

Before the jackpot is issued, both the prize and the prizewinner have to be validated as eligible, honest, and must conform to all the rules and regulations.

Investigations take place when someone wins a specific prize amount, such as $10,000, and grow in rigour as the win increases, with the most-investigated win, understandably, being the top jackpot.

Not only do the investigations involve ensuring that the draw itself was conducted properly, but also that the winner won the prize legitimately.

For a jackpot win, the interview process is extremely detailed and lengthy—possibly taking around several weeks or months to complete. Once the winning ticket is presented by the winner, the investigation takes two paths. One internally with the lottery operator, and one with the winner.

How Thorough Are the Investigations?

The internal investigation reviews the entire draw process, from the validation of the balls and blower to the terminal through which the winning ticket was validated.

For the winner, the interview process can be overwhelming and intimidating. For instance, investigators will ask the potential winner where, when, and at what time the ticket was bought, and who was with them at the time of the ticket purchase. They will want to know if the prize claimant buys any other lottery tickets. They may record the interview and take notes.

Essentially, they are making sure that the information they have on the ticket purchase matches what the winner tells them. Many resources are utilized for this, from the internal records of the terminal to the surveillance footage of the retailer where the ticket was purchased.

An “insider win” is when someone who is an employee of a certain company - or the close relative of that employee - and who is prohibited from taking part in the lottery games wins a prize.

Insiders tend to be direct employees of the lottery operator or regulator, suppliers of gaming equipment, advertisers or other industries doing business with the operator or regulator—or any other person, business, agency or organization that is not in an arm’s-length relationship with the operator or regulator.

For instance, let’s say Jane is a server at a restaurant in Bob’s Casino and Resort. Bob’s is regulated under the state gaming commission, which has declared that anyone working in the gaming industry in the state is not allowed to buy lottery tickets.

How It Works

One day, Jane’s grandmother, Martha, wins the lottery jackpot. Even though Jane is a server and has nothing to do whatsoever with the lottery section, the win can be classified as an insider win.

As such, both Jane and Martha are subject to an intensive investigation and interviewing process than a non-insider winner, because of the public perception that, since Jane works in the gaming industry, she may have been able to influence the outcome of the lottery draw in her grandmother’s favour.

There's a Reason They Do It

These investigations and interviews are designed to ensure that the draw has been conducted legitimately and that the winner claiming the win is, in fact, the correct ticket holder. So, if you find yourself the subject of such interviews and investigations, this is a good thing.

Don’t look at it as the operator/regulator trying to intimidate you or disprove your claim to the win. It’s actually in your best interest and benefit as they ensure that you are the legitimate winner and the rightful recipient of the prize.

For more information about what jackpot winners will be required to do in the months following their win, check out the Why Aren't Jackpot Winners Announced Immediately? article.

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