Civil Litigation

Loose group lottery play leads to lawsuits

By Staff

Players may find themselves in court fighting over winnings if they fail to follow suggested guidelines for groups purchasing lottery tickets, Toronto civil litigator Sarah O’Connor tells

CTV News recently reported on a B.C. lottery winner being sued by four former co-workers who allege they are owed a cut of the $1-million prize.

The claim, which has not been proven in court, alleges the five colleagues agreed to buy Lotto Max tickets with money left over from a Christmas potluck at work.

According to the news story, the plaintiffs only learned of the man’s win on social media after he failed to show up for work in the days following the draw. His son later said his sister actually bought the ticket, and the father claimed the prize, something that would contravene lottery rules requiring prizes to only be claimed by rightful ticket holders, CTV notes.

“The lawsuit is not super surprising to me,” says O’Connor, principal of O’Connor Richardson Professional Corporation. “It generally seems to happen when there’s a big windfall, and people didn't follow the suggested guidelines when buying group lottery tickets.”

O’Connor explains that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLGC) encourages those playing together to fill out a group form, but says this “rarely happens.”

OLGC’s website suggests players select a group “captain” who should keep up-to-date records of members and past plays.

After buying tickets, the OLGC says captains should immediately sign the tickets, adding “in trust” to indicate that it is intended for group play, and then send copies to all the parties involved every time they buy them together.

O’Connor says the apparently impulsive nature of the alleged B.C. purchase means those rules were even less likely to be followed. However, she says lottery administrators have an extensive list of tools at their disposal to either verify or cast doubt on a winner’s story.

“They will have records of every ticket purchased and video footage they can pull up to see who actually made the purchase,” O’Connor explains. "If the footage shows him buying the ticket by himself that could bolster the claim of the former co-workers. But, if it shows the daughter buying the ticket, they could be out of luck."

A news release from the lottery quoted the jackpot winner as saying he bought tickets every Friday from the same gas station, and that he planned to “stop working, pay everything off and just enjoy life."

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