A Surrey man is furious with a local lottery retailer after he bought Scratch & Win tickets, and found out later they had already expired.

Steve Hildebran says he recently bought two of the B.C. Lottery Corporation's Blackjack Scratch & Win tickets at Jimy Mac's Liquor Store in Langley, B.C.

He scratched them and found he won a small prize—only $2—but when he went to cash in at a gas station, the clerk there refused to give him his winnings.

Steve Hildebran plays a scratch and win game in his Surrey, B.C. home

Hildebran said he didn't know the Scratch & Win game tickets had expiry dates. (CBC)

"He said 'I can't give you any money. The thing's no good. It expired six months ago,'" Hildebran recalls. "I go 'What?' I couldn’t believe it. I said, 'I just bought it yesterday.'"

Hildebran says he had no idea the tickets could expire, but was shown that the tickets do have an expiry date printed on the back. Hildebran's tickets expired Jan. 14, 2014.

"Every time I think about it I get mad," he says.  "I just feel ripped off, and the thing is: how many tickets have I bought since January 14th?"

''Every time I think about it I get mad... I just feel ripped off.' - Steve Hildebran, of Surrey, B.C.

He complained to the B.C. Lottery Corporation, which sent an inspector to the store. The inspector didn't find any other expired tickets, BCLC said.

In a written statement, BCLC told CBC News it appeared to be an isolated incident.

"This retailer has no previous history of selling expired tickets and has offered to fully refund the player," it said. "Retailers who inadvertently sell expired tickets would be subject to investigation and possible discipline."

That disciplinary process starts with a warning, and can ramp up to a one-week suspension, a two-week suspension and eventually the loss of the store's lottery terminal if there are found to be repeated breaches of the retailer's contract.

Steve Hildebran's expired ticket receipt

B.C. Lottery Corporation said it appeared to be an isolated incident. Since BCLC refunds expired tickets, retailers have no incentive to break the rules and sell them to the public, it said. (CBC)

BCLC would not reveal how often expired tickets are sold, but said it was a rare occurrence.

"There is no financial incentive for a retailer to sell an expired ticket, as these tickets are fully refunded by BCLC."

The liquor store declined CBC's request for an interview, but did say that no other customers have complained. BCLC said the store now has a note on its file.

Hildebran doesn't know how many expired tickets he may have inadvertently bought in the past, but says he now knows to check the expiry date.

He says he also learned he was wasting his money hoping for the Blackjack grand prize, because the $21,000 jackpot had already been claimed. That information is published on BCLC's website, where customers can see which Scratch & Win tickets still have unclaimed prizes.

Hildebran says the lottery corporation should recall Scratch & Win tickets from retailers once the larger prizes are gone, but BCLC says it only pulls tickets that have jackpots exceeding $500,000 when those prizes have been claimed.

Steve Hildebran plays a scratch and win game in his Surrey, B.C. home

Steve Hildebran is shown playing a Scratch & Win game in his Surrey, B.C., home. He says he now knows to check for expiry dates, but still wonders how many expired Scratch & Win tickets he has bought up until now. (CBC)


B.C. Lottery Corporation's full statement:

Once determined that a player was sold an expired Scratch & Win ticket, that player would be refunded the full value from the retail location which sold the ticket. In this instance, BCLC still needs to verify and confirm the tickets were sold after the expiration date printed on the ticket before the player receives a refund.

Lottery retailers are aware that all tickets sold in B.C. have an expiry date printed directly on the ticket and receive regular updates of pending ticket expiry dates. Players are encouraged to speak with the lottery retailer for any questions they may have while purchasing a Scratch & Win ticket.  Lottery retailers purchase Scratch & Wins for sale to players and then return the tickets to BCLC for credit before they expire. There is no financial incentive for a retailer to sell an expired ticket as these tickets are fully refunded by BCLC.

This retailer has no previous history of selling expired tickets and has offered to fully refund the player. Retailers who inadvertently sell expired tickets would be subject to investigation and possible discipline.

Information on all lottery games, tickets, expired tickets, and claimed and unclaimed Scratch & Win prizes is available at BCLC.com.