Oct 15

Florida Woman Wins $5 Million in Scratch-Off Game

A woman who has won $5 million on the Florida Lottery’s $20 Flamingo Multiplier scratchcard only discovered she was due the massive prize a number of days after making the purchase. Suzanne Gulledge, of Sorrento, Lake County, carried the tickets around in her purse, having forgotten all about them, before eventually scratching them off over brunch with her husband Gerald in a restaurant bar.

“I started scratching and let my husband read the numbers. First one won $50, second nothing then the third one came. He kept looking at it and looking and says you won $5 million. I still don’t believe it,” said Suzanne to the Orlando Sentinel after collecting her prize at the Florida Lottery offices in Tallahassee. The 51-year-old chose to take the $3.7 million cash lump sum option and told the assembled press that her three grown-up sons were also in disbelief at their mother’s good fortune.

Suzanne says she will invest the prize from the ticket that she bought at a Publix store in Wilton Manors near Fort Lauderdale, where she keeps a second home for work purposes. The retailer will also receive a $10,000 bonus from the Florida Lottery as a reward for selling the lucky scratcher.

She beat odds of 1 in 3.8 million to win the fourth of six jackpots on offer in the Flamingo Multiplier game, which offers overall odds of 1 in 2.97 of winning any award. The Florida Lottery provides a number of different scratchers, with entry prices ranging from $1 to $25, and reports that they comprise 67 percent of all lottery ticket sales in the Sunshine State. In addition, instant win games generated more than $632 million for educational projects in Florida in the last fiscal year.

As well as scratchers, the Florida Lottery players can take part in exciting draw games like Florida Lotto, Powerball and Mega Millions.

by Mike Redfern
Updated October 29th, 2015

Jun 15

Florida Resident Loses Winning Lottery Tickets Worth $92,000

A Florida man who felt it might be written in the stars for him to win on the lottery after being convinced to play by a series of coincidences, has missed out on $92,000 after losing his tickets. Walid Aboroomi had regularly played with the numbers 7-1-5, because his birthday is 15th July, and on 28th May he started to notice signs that his luck might be in.

Aboroomi looked at the time and saw it was 7.15pm, while there was also a car in the parking lot with a license plate containing 715. He said in the Tampa Tribune: “Everything was 715. It was blowing my brain.” Aboroomi, who owns a BP service station, decided to purchase 184 Florida Cash 3 entries from his own store and was stunned to discover the next day that his numbers had come up, with each ticket worth $500.

However, he was unable to track down the winning tickets despite searching frantically through the garbage, under carpets and in the bathroom. He even called his garbage hauler to say he had lost a ring, and was told that all his rubbish gets taken to an incinerator. Aboroomi recalled: “I searched every place. Finally, I gave up. I was crying, crying like a baby.”

He printed off a ticket from the lottery machine to show that 184 tickets had been sold, but Florida Lottery officials informed him that he must have the tickets to make a claim. There were 2,827 other players who picked 7-1-5 for that draw and prizes totalling $449,685 were paid out.

Despite missing out on such a fortune, Aboroomi accepts that he can’t complain. He has enjoyed a lot of success with his numbers over the years, having won $500,000 in a scratch-off jackpot in 2004 and $1 million on the Virginia Million Dollar Madness scratch game the following year. He also won a $100,000 Virginia Pick 3 prize in 2007 and $71,000 less than a year earlier after buying 162 Pick 3 tickets, taking his total winnings past $1.5 million.

Aboroomi has used some of his winnings to make donations to local charities and homeless shelters, and says he is a very lucky man.  He commented: “Yeah, I’m not hungry.”

by Mike Redfern
Updated June 19th, 2015

Mar 15

Florida Lottery Sets Scratchcard Sale Record

More than $95.6 million was spent on Florida Lottery scratchcard sales in the week ending on March 8th, breaking all known records. Over $17 million was generated for Florida schools in that week alone, leading Florida Lottery Secretary Cynthia O’Connell to describe the situation as “good news across the board.” Increased sales, she said, also lead to more winners and better commissions for Lottery retailers.

One reason for the increase in sales was the release of a new scratchcard, Florida Cash, which offers a top prize of $10 million. A Lake City resident, Randall Wheeler Jr., has already snapped up one of the top prizes. Sales of the scratchcard in the first week of March came in at $20.8 million, while another card, $600,000 Gold Rush, racked up more $10.6 million and 100X THE CASH raised more than $7.3 million in ticket sales.

Scratchcards and draw games offered by the Florida Lottery help raise vital funding for education in the Sunshine State. Since the first tickets went on sale 27 years ago, more than $27 billion has been dedicated to enhancing and furthering K-12 and higher education. In addition to scholarships and other programs, a portion of Florida Lottery revenue is used to construct schools across the state. Visit the Florida Lottery Page of Lottery.net to learn more about the games and great prizes available.

by Mike Redfern
Updated April 5th, 2016

Nov 14

New Bill Opens the Door for Online Ticket Sales on the Florida Lottery

Playing the Florida Lottery may be about to get a lot easier after a bill was filed by the state Senator that would allow tickets to be sold online. It would make the Florida Lottery the eighth state in the US to allow online ticket sales.

At present, the only way to buy a ticket for the game is through physical sales at recognised outlets and state Senator Gwen Margolis believes allowing online sales would boost the lottery’s fundraising potential.

Since it started in 1988, the Florida Lottery has donated $27 billion to education and Margolis argues that it is a key fundraising asset for the state. Allowing online sales is likely to see a rise in revenues as the game becomes more accessible and easy to play.

It is seen as a sensible and viable alternative to allowing a casino resort to be built in the south of the state, with major investors currently lobbying heavily for a new development. However, critics have claimed that it could have a worrying ramifications for those with gambling addiction problems.

Brian Kongsvik, the helpline director of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, said “In theory, there is no doubt about it that some individuals that have a gambling problem, or the potential to develop one, could use credit lines to gamble more than they normally would,”

The seven states which currently operate an online ticket service have adopted various methods including prepaid cards and credit cards. However, it is not yet known how the Florida Lottery would operate its online ticket sales, with the bill simply stating that the Lottery would “have the authority to create a program that allows a person who is 18 years of age or older to make an online purchase of a Florida Lottery ticket.”

Meanwhile, a Florida Lottery ticket worth $12million remains unclaimed with time quickly running out for the winner to claim their prize. The ticket, for the drawing which took place on June 28, expires on Christmas day at midnight and must be claimed at the Florida Lottery headquarters in Tallahassee. Organisers say it was was purchased at a 7-Eleven store at 4741 Northwest 79th Avenue in Miami and matched the winning numbers 12, 16, 23, 33, 46 and 50.

by Mike Redfern
Updated November 28th, 2014

Jun 14

Florida Lottery Launches Campaign to Protect Players

Friday June 20 2014Florida Lottery officials have launched a campaign this week which seeks to educate players on the importance of signing their lottery tickets. Named “Sign Your Ticket”, the campaign has been launched as part of an on-going effort to protect lottery players against potential fraud after it was discovered that nine of the top ten winners in scratch-off games were convenience store owners.

The purpose of the campaign is to remind all players to sign their tickets immediately, whether they are scratch-offs or lottery tickets, as this will prevent an unauthorised person claiming a prize due to the original purchaser of the ticket. To help get their message across, Florida Lottery have employed a variety of mediums to alert players to the need to sign their tickets, including messages on the official website, announcements on Facebook and Twitter and promotional material available from lottery retailers and district offices.

The lottery also encourages players to check their own tickets or, if they want to check them at a retailer, watch the monitor while the ticket is being checked and ask for a receipt. If there is a dispute over the ticket, players are advised to ask for the original ticket back and to contact the lottery directly on (850) 487-7787.

Florida Lottery officials have always instructed players to sign the back of their tickets but following an on-going investigation to determine whether any stores have carried out fraudulent activity, officials felt it necessary to reiterate the importance to players.

In an ongoing attempt to stamp out fraudulent claims by unscrupulous lottery retailers, Florida Lottery officials have investigated over 100 stores in the past six months alone and last month suspended ticket sales at 11 retailers after it was found that the stores accounted for a suspiciously high number of winners. Of these 11 stores, seven were linked to convenience store owner Chirag Parmar of Pinellas County who, along with his mother, had claimed 47 prizes of $1,000 or more over the past three years.

However, it isn’t just Florida Lottery officials who are dealing with lottery fraud as other states have also encountered the same issue. In November last year, a father and son from Long Island, New York, were charged with grand larceny after they scammed a customer out of a $1 million prize. Instead of advising the winner to contact lottery officials to claim his win, Nabil and Karim Jagbah told the man he had won $1,000 and handed him the cash while they kept the $1 million ticket. Luckily the customer suspected foul play and returned to the store the following day to question the owners. After being confronted by the customer, the Jagbah’s increased the alleged prize winnings to $10,000 and asked the customer not to involve the police. Thankfully this unusual request appears to have raised the ticket holder’s suspicions even further and he duly contacted the NYPD who arrested and charged the dishonest duo.

Unfortunately this is not the first time New York Lottery officials have dealt with lottery fraud as, back in 2006, Robert Miles was scammed out of a $5 million prize by two brothers whose father owned the Green Ale Market in Syracuse. The brothers, Andy and Nayel Ashkar, told Miles he had won just $5,000 on a scratch-off. Although Miles afterwards suspected that the prize could have been considerably more, at the time he was homeless and addicted to crack cocaine and didn’t think anyone would take his word over that of the Ashkar brothers.

As the period for claiming prizes on a scratch-offs is significantly different from a normal lottery ticket, the brothers held on to the ticket for six years before attempting to claim the prize on the day it was due to expire in March 2012.  Suspicious of the delay in claiming the prize, as well as a number of other factors, officials believed that they may be dealing with a potentially fraudulent claim and launched a full investigation. Fortunately the saga ended happily for Miles who, having kicked his drug habit and found a full-time job, was united with his rightful winnings in August 2013. The ending was not so happy for Andy Ashkar who was found guilty of possession of stolen property and sentenced to the maximum term of between 8 1/3 and 25 years for criminal possession of stolen property.

Protection Against Lottery Fraud

In the UK, the National Lottery has launched an initiative to make players aware that they have won a prize by introducing an audible fanfare to their terminals. When UK retailers scan a ticket, the alert sounds and a receipt with the exact prize amount is produced. This simple system has gone a long way to deterring potentially dishonest retailers from advising players that their ticket hasn’t won a prize and then going on to claim the prize themselves.

While some state lotteries supply retailers with a similar system to that used in the UK, is it not yet something that has been implemented state-wide and so we would advise players to take the following steps to avoid missing out on a prize:

  • Always check your tickets yourself where possible. Some states have self-scan devices in retailers which enable you to check your tickets in store. If your state doesn’t offer this, make sure you check your numbers using a lottery results website such as Lottery.net.
  • Make sure you check your state lottery website for details of how to claim your prize. Larger prizes can only be claimed in person from lottery offices so make sure you understand how to claim your prize and don’t rely on a retailer for the information.
  • If you can, buy your tickets online. When lottery tickets are bought online they are saved electronically and checked automatically which means you are automatically alerted by email or text if you win a prize.
by Patrick Fitzgerald
Updated April 5th, 2016