State lottery game glitch leaves players unable to collect winnings

VIDEO: State lottery game glitch leaves players unable to collect winnings
Published: Dec. 26, 2017 at 6:48 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 26, 2017 at 7:20 PM EST
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When clerks tried to redeem Holiday Cash game tickets, they received the message, "Transaction...
When clerks tried to redeem Holiday Cash game tickets, they received the message, "Transaction Not Allowed." (Source: Live 5)

SOUTH CAROLINA (WCSC) - Dozens of Charleston area residents are perturbed with the South Carolina Education Lottery after one of its games appears to have had a glitch in the system.

Several players claim to have won big in the Holiday Cash game, where the player has to get three Christmas trees in any vertical, horizontal or diagonal line in order to win a prize.

"The cashier said that's a $500 winner," said Ronald Sorsby, of Georgia. "So I kept on playing and I kept on winning."

Sorsby was visiting family on Johns Island for Christmas when he decided to play the lottery Monday night.

He purchased his tickets at a gas station on Maybank Highway, dropping roughly $30 on the Holiday Cash game. His tickets appeared to land him in big money.

"I had at least $12,000 in winnings," Sorsby said. "My mother-in-law was cheering me on, so I just picked up a $2,000 winner and said Merry Christmas… My reaction was that it was unbelievable! Which kind of turned out to be true now."

That's because when Sorsby went to cash in those tickets Tuesday morning, the cashier printed out a ticket from the SC Education Lottery saying "Transaction Not Allowed".

"She went in the back to talk to her manager and the manager said she couldn't do anything with it," Sorsby said.

"The cashier told me there may have been an error in the transaction," said Tyrone Mitchell, of Wadmalaw Island. "Some people were telling me it was too much money to cash and I would have to go to Columbia. Someone told me there was a glitch in the system."

Mitchell also bought his tickets at a gas station Monday night.

"[I was thinking] Christmas is here, Christmas is here!" he said. "I couldn't believe that I won."

Mitchell went on to say that several gas stations were no longer selling the Holiday Cash game when he went back trying to redeem his ticket.

"I played [the game] legally and fairly… [we] should be obligated for the money," Mitchell said. "It's not our fault they had a glitch in the system."

"I feel like I spent my real money to win Monopoly money," Sorsby said.

Mitchell added the money from the big win would go a long way with his family.

"I'm taking care of my mother, she's got dementia and dialysis," he said. "She's basically home a lot, and it would help with the bills around the house and whatever."

South Carolina Education Lottery spokeswoman Holli Armstrong issued this statement on Tuesday night:

The South Carolina Education Lottery's computer system vendor, Intralot, experienced a programming error on Christmas Day that impacted Holiday Cash Add-A-Play tickets, a $1 terminal-generated instant game.  From 5:51 p.m. to 7:53 p.m., the same play symbol was repeated in all nine available play areas on tickets which would result in a top prize of $500.  No more than five identical play symbols should appear for a single play.  As soon as the issue was identified, the Add-A-Play game was suspended immediately to conduct a thorough investigation.  Instant (scratch) tickets and all other lottery games were not affected by this error.

Holiday Cash Add-A-Play game sales and validations will remain suspended until further notice. All players who purchased a Holiday Cash Add-A-Play ticket on Christmas Day during the time period affected are advised to hold on to their ticket(s) until the review is completed.  A further announcement will be made at the end of this week.

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