It was red faces all round at the Illinois lottery company last week.
About 3,000 duplicate quick-pick lottery tickets were issued!
Now that’s embarrassing.
[It was a software problem and only affected players in Illinois, USA]
How Could This Happen?
Lottery terminals were being upgraded over the weekend, and part of the software upgrade process caused a problem with quick pick numbers not being cleared down properly.
So the next quick pick ticket printed got exactly the same set of numbers!
It was swiftly fixed, but not before 3,000 duplicate lottery tickets were issued.
Now 3,000 out of over 6 million tickets doesn’t sound like much of a problem. (It wasn’t 3,000 tickets all the same after all – but 3,000 each of which were identical to one other ticket)
And only 340 or so ‘duplicate’ small prizes were actually won, so the Illinois lottery is playing the incident down.
This was a pretty serious error though. For two reasons.
Firstly, consider those people who bought 2 quick pick tickets. That’s likely to be those 340 who got ‘duplicate’ small prizes, as not many people buy the same lottery numbers twice! The rest of the 3,000 duplicates were likely issued to the next person in the queue – more on that one in a moment…
So if we assume all of those 340 people intended to buy 2 lots of different quick pick tickets – doesn’t that mean they’ve just been cheated? Because they actually only played half as many combinations as they requested. Which HALVED their chances of winning!
To put it another way. What if that second set of quick picks they never received had actually included the winning combination..?
That’s pretty ugly.
But It Could Have Been Even Worse
Nobody with one of the duplicate tickets actually won the jackpot. If they had, sure they’d have been happy enough – but there would have been a lawyers free-for-all to follow!
Because what if you didn’t get issued a duplicate quick pick ticket, but won the jackpot legitimately – with numbers that also happened to get issued to a duplicate ticket holder..?
You’d now be sharing your jackpot either with the person who was behind you in the lottery queue!
Or two other people – the one who happened to buy a genuine quick pick with the same winning numbers as you, plus the person who was behind them in the lottery queue.
Either way, your jackpot would be a lot smaller as a result. And the lottery company even redder in the face, and potentially in the pocket too.
The Illinois lottery are offering to refund those customers affected. But those duplicate ticket holders that understand the real implications of what just happened may not be willing to lie down quite so easily.
The Take Away Bit
If you buy multiple quick pick tickets, do a quick check before you leave the counter – just to make sure the numbers are different between tickets.
It’s very rare for a glitch like this to happen, but it only takes a second to protect yourself before the draw is made.