The Iowa Lottery is proposing some changes to the way it verifies winning tickets following a discussion with state legislators. Iowa Lottery executives met with the government oversight committee after the State Ombudsman threatened to use legal action to obtain access to lottery consumer complaint files. The ombudsman requested the records as part of an investigation into potential fraud prompted by a retailer fraud scandal in the Canadian lottery.
The ombudsman has since said he’s been assured access to the files. Lawmakers told lottery officials they’d like to see some changes in the system to prevent a retailer from telling a customer a ticket was not a winner and then cashing it in. In response to that request, acting Iowa Lottery CEO Ken Brickman issued a memo to lawmakers outlining three proposed changes.
The Lottery will file an emergency administrative rule to require that each Iowa Lottery ticket bear a signature before it can be validated. Retailers will be required to verify that a ticket bears a signature before attempting to validate it. The Lottery will request that computer-programming changes be made so that a receipt will be printed for each attempt to validate a lotto or instant-scratch ticket.
And finally, the Lottery will develop and implement a public service campaign to remind players of security issues, including the availability of receipts with each lottery ticket-validation attempt.
Iowa Lottery vice president, Mary Neubauer says they went through a list of possible changes and the pluses and minuses of each. Neubauer says each change has a history behind and a reason it is not being used. For example, Neubauer says many people asked about having lottery machines play music when a winning ticket was run through.
Neubauer says the problem with playing a jingle for a winner is that it notifies the ticket holder they’ve won, but it also tells other people that you have won. Neubauer says the jingle was used years ago, but dropped after ticket winners said they were concerned about their safety if others knew they’d won a prize. She says those safety concerns remain and the lottery won’t bring back the jingle.
Neubauer says the signature and public service campaign could be ready by March, but it will probably take until May to reprogram computers to print the varification receipts for tickets.