Nebraska Lottery won't pay out game's misprinted tickets

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Lottery won't have to pay out to dozens of players who thought they won prizes in a holiday scratch-off game with misprinted tickets.

The state lottery cancelled its new Holiday Bonus Bucks game in September after discovering the mistake by International Game Technology, the company that produced the tickets. Lottery officials found that 405 tickets had been sold before the issue was identified within two hours of the game's opening.

Winner amounts on the misprinted tickets varied from a few dollars to $40,000 prizes, but state law doesn't legally obligate the Nebraska Lottery to pay prize money for tickets that are produced or issued in error, according to Brian Rockey, state lottery director.

"We've never had anything like this, to this degree. It was a real fluke," Rockey said. "I'm glad we were able to catch it when we did or there would be many more disappointed people."

Lincoln resident Connie Johnson was one of those first players to purchase and attempt to cash in Holiday Bonus Bucks tickets. She had several $40,000 winning combinations but learned that the tickets had been incorrectly printed.

The Nebraska Lottery is now asking anyone who purchased a Holiday Bonus Bucks ticket to return the card by March 24. Those who send in the tickets will receive Lottery scratch coupons in return.

Lottery spokesman Neil Watson said 150 of the tickets have been returned. About 80 of those appeared to be winners because of inaccurately printed symbols and 52 others appeared to win larger prizes than the actual amounts tied to the cards, he said.

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