OLG worker's mistake leads to payout to man with misprinted lottery tickets

Ontario's gaming agency has made a payment to a man who held losing scratch-and-win tickets because an employee made an error.

Ontario's gaming agency has made a payment to a man who held losing scratch-and-win tickets because an employee made an error when the lottery player called a contact centre.

Thomas Noftall of Brampton held four tickets that were apparently worth a total of $135,000. But  the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG) said before Monday that the tickets were misprints and without value.

On Monday afternoon, OLG CEO Kelly McDougald told reporters that the agency had misinformed Noftall about his tickets when he called a contact centre, distressing him. 

"He called in and asked if there would be a payment made if there was an error, and he was told there would be. And that was an erroneous statement."

Because of that "direct miscommunication," OLG "made him a payment in acknowledgment of that  pain and suffering."

She would not disclose the amount of the payment.

OLG earlier maintained there would be no payment.

"Our policy on misprinted tickets is to replace the ticket with a new one or provide a refund to the customer," OLG spokeswoman Rula Sharkawi told the Canadian Press.

And McDougald insisted that "we are not responsible for paying on non-winning tickets, and I don't think the general public wants us to pay for non-winning tickets."

Nonetheless, "we're anxious to work with our customers" to clarify situations.

Noftall had bought Fruit Smash tickets, which are supposed have a series of covered symbols that can match those printed on the top of the card.

On Noftall' s tickets, when he scratched off the coating, some of those symbols were misaligned and printed on top of each other.

He matched the winning symbols, but the ticket was declared void because of the misprinting.

When the tickets were passed through a bar code scanner, there was no indication they were winners. But the person Noftall spoke with at the OLG office assured him he'd be paid, he said. 

Emotional roller-coaster

Before the settlement was disclosed, Noftall, 24, said the past few days were an emotional roller-coaster.

"Me and my wife have been arguing about this, how to take care of this, and it's causing us more stress than we need, right. And this is just me. Think of all those other people out there. There might be other people in even worse situations than me looking at this and going, 'Oh my God, oh my God, my problems are fixed.' And they're just going to get a slap in the face for it and, here's an apology," he said during an interview on CBC Newsworld.

So far, about 15 other "winners" with misprinted tickets have surfaced, but "there's been no other miscommunication," Kelly McDougald said.

She said the OLG will deal with other concerned ticket buyers on a case-by-case basis.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission, which regulates lotteries in Ontario, said it is aware of the situation and is investigating.

With files from the Canadian Press