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How to spot a lottery winner

Melanie Payne: Tell Mel (Photo: news-press.com)

The Florida Lottery used to put a code on scratch-off lottery tickets. The three letter code was an indication of whether the scratch-off was a winner or not. An FTN for example, meant the ticket was a $15 winner. If the code was FHN, the ticket was a $500 winner.

A code such as KVX, or some other seemingly random and undecipherable group of letters, meant the card wasn’t a winner.

These codes are used by many states on their scratch-off tickets. And there is even a website and Facebook page devoted to the codes so that people can double-check their scratch-off tickets before discarding them. The codes weren’t visible until the latex above them was scratched off, just like when you scratch off other areas on the card.

The Florida Lottery is phasing out the scratch-off code system. It isn’t being used on any of the newer scratch-off ticket games.

John Szymonik contacted me, a bit upset about this. The Lehigh Acres man believes the lottery is removing the codes to increase their profit.

Many of the games are confusing, Szymonik said, making it easy to misinterpret a winning card. He gave me an example of once playing a “bingo” instant lottery ticket that called for 20 scratches for four games on each card. He thought it was a loser but when looking at the code saw it indicated the scratch-off was a winner.

Szymonik said he could never figure out where he had a “bingo” on the card, but because he saw the code he didn’t throw the ticket away. When he took it to a retailer, it was a $300 winner as the code showed.

Szymonik suspects the games are designed to be confusing so that people don’t realize they are winners. That way the lottery makes more money because people will buy the tickets but never claim the prize.

Some of the games do seem difficult to understand. As an example, here are the instructions for a $25 Florida Lottery scratch-off:

“Match any of your numbers to any of the winning numbers, win prize shown for that number. Get a (2X), (5X), (10X), (25X), (50X) OR (100X) symbol and multiply your prize shown for that symbol by that amount! Get a ($100) symbol, win $100 automatically. Get an (ALL) symbol, win all $25 prizes shown for that symbol!”

I guess if you aren’t reading carefully or don’t fully understand how to play, you might not know you’ve won. But if you are a novice player, you might not know about codes either.

The lottery said the codes were printed on scratch-off tickets so retailers could validate them. That information is now embedded in the bar code.

There are many ways to determine if a ticket is a winner without knowing the code. After you buy a ticket and scratch it off you can get the ticket validated by:

•Calling the lottery at 850-487-7787.

•Sending an email copy of the ticket to [email protected]

•Using a self-check scanner at a lottery retailer.

•Mailing the tickets to the lottery and waiting for a check.

•Taking the ticket to a retailer and asking them to run it through the machine.

And there is no need to worry about getting cheated out of your lottery winnings if you sign the back of the ticket and print your name, address and phone number. Also, when you go to a retailer and the ticket is a winner, the machine plays a tune heralding the win.

So here’s what I think the people who play scratch-offs should do. Sign the tickets and take them to a retailer and see if they are winners before you throw them out. It’s simple enough and doesn’t take any deciphering of codes or complicated instructions.

If you suspect any shenanigans involving Florida Lottery tickets or vendors, contact the Office of the Inspector General online, by email, or by writing Office of the Inspector General c/o Florida Lottery, 250 Marriott Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32301.

Scratch-off lottery tickets can be confusing – find the right way to recognize winners

Mo. Code Regs. tit. 12 § 40-80.050

PURPOSE: This amendment conforms this rule to proposed amendments reflecting current practice and terminology and to a proposed rescission moving a provision currently in another rule to this rule, combining different requirements relating to winning Scratchers tickets and to validation of those tickets into fewer rules.

(1) All of the following requirements must be met for a Scratchers ticket to be a valid Scratchers winning ticket: (A) Exactly one (1) play symbol must appear under each rub-off spot on the ticket; (B) When play symbol captions are used, each of the play symbols must have a play symbol caption underneath and each play symbol must agree with its play symbol caption; (C) Each of the play symbols must be present in its entirety and be fully legible; (D) When play symbol captions are used, each of the play symbol captions must be present in its entirety and be fully legible; (E) Each of the play symbols and play symbol captions must be printed in ink; (F) The ticket shall be intact; (G) The pack-ticket number, the ticket validation number and the encrypted validation code must be present in their entirety and be fully legible. The validation number shall correspond, using the lottery’s codes, to play symbols on the ticket; (H) The ticket must not be reconstituted or tampered with in any manner; (I) The ticket must not be counterfeit in whole or in part; (J) The ticket validation number, the pack-ticket number and the encrypted validation code shall be printed in ink; (K) The ticket must have been issued by the lottery in an authorized manner; (L) The ticket must not be stolen nor appear on any list of omitted tickets on file at the lottery; (M) The play symbols, the play symbol captions, the ticket validation number, the encrypted validation code and the pack-ticket number must be rightside up and not reversed in any manner; (N) The ticket must have exactly one (1) play symbol caption under each rub-off spot, when play symbol captions are used, exactly one (1) pack-ticket number, exactly one (1) encrypted validation code and exactly one (1) validation number; (O) The validation number of an apparent winning ticket shall appear on the lottery’s official file of validation numbers of winning tickets and the ticket with that validation number shall not have been paid previously according to the records of the lottery; (P) The ticket must not be blank or partially blank, misregistered, defective or printed or produced in error; (Q) Each of the play symbols on the ticket must correspond precisely to the game specifications on file at the lottery. When play symbol captions are used, each of the play symbol captions must correspond precisely to the game specifications on file at the lottery; (R) The pack-ticket number must correspond precisely to the game specifications on file at the lottery; (S) The encrypted validation code must correspond precisely to the game specifications on file at the lottery; (T) The validation number must correspond precisely to the game specifications on file at the lottery; (U) The display printing must be regular in every respect and correspond precisely with the game specifications on file at the lottery; (V) The ticket must pass all additional confidential validation tests prescribed by the lottery; and (W) The ticket must be a Scratchers ticket offered for sale by the lottery during the period announced by the director for that Scratchers game. (2) No portion of the display printing on the Scratchers ticket nor any extraneous matter whatsoever shall be usable or playable as part of the Scratchers ticket. (3) At the direction of the director, the lottery may pay a winning claim on a damaged or mutilated ticket. This is dependent on the lottery being able to identify the game-pack-ticket number or validation number, and a sufficient amount of the ticket play area, in order to have the ability to reconstruct the ticket, as directed by lottery procedure, to compare and successfully match it to the damaged/mutilated ticket. Provided that the ticket has not been validated, the lottery’s director may authorize that the claim be paid. (4) The director, solely at his/her option, may replace an invalid ticket with an unplayed ticket(s) of equivalent sales price for any current lottery game. In the event a defective ticket is purchased, the only responsibility or liability of the lottery shall be the replacement of the defective ticket with another unplayed ticket(s) of equivalent sales price from any lottery Scratchers game currently on sale.

AUTHORITY: section 313.220 , RSMo Supp. 1998.* Original rule filed Jan. 10, 1986, effective Jan. 20, 1986. Amended: Filed June 3, 1999, effective Dec. 30, 1999. Amended by Missouri Register January 15, 2015/Volume 40, Number 02, effective 2/28/2015 Amended by Missouri Register May 15, 2018/Volume 43, Number 10, effective 7/2/2018

*Original authority: 313.220, RSMo 1985, amended 1988, 1990, 1993.

Read Section 12 CSR 40-80.050 – Scratchers Validation Requirements, Mo. Code Regs. tit. 12 § 40-80.050, see flags on bad law, and search Casetext’s comprehensive legal database