Concern over lottery prize denials to Patels

India Post News Service

rmila patelATLANTA: The Georgia Lottery officials are investigating some of the big prize winners and the Lottery Commission has refused to pay more than $17.1 million in scratch-off game prizes since 2014
Denial letters have been issued to 270 winners of $1,000 or more in the past four years suspecting some kind of fraud. It is interesting to note that among those getting the denial letters, 63 percent were people of Indian, Asian or Hispanic descent. People with the common last name Patel make up 23 percent of the denials, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis.
The suspicion is said to be in the wake of winners who claim multiple winning games in a relatively short period of time, especially those who cannot identify where or when the game was purchased, or individuals who are untruthful about having relationships with store owners who sell the games.

Some of those affected have resorted to legal action with handful of lawsuits, challenging million-dollar denials saying that the withhold prize money without specific evidence of cheating is unlawful on the part of the Lottery Commission.
The suits claim the lottery’s system of investigating winners is discriminatory — that they “interrogate” winners who often have trouble speaking and understanding English, then seize on small discrepancies in the answers to unjustly deny awards.
Lottery officials claim there is no discrimination in the procedures but it is important to maintain fairness for everyone who plays. Joe Kim, the lottery’s general counsel, said the system of investigating winning games became necessary when lottery officials noticed some individuals were claiming prizes at statistically impossible rates.
“We had some people that had claimed — I think there were a dozen that had claimed over a hundred prizes,” Kim said in the deposition. “There were 60 or 70 people that had claimed over 50. Everyone knew they were cashing tickets for other people.
“That was kind of the first step in taking a closer look and doing more investigation of suspicious prize claims.”
Members of Indian community at large are concerned at the alleged alarmingly high rates of prize denials to the Indian community by Georgia Lottery and are urging Governor Nathan Deal to launch an investigation.

Headquartered in Atlanta, the Georgia Lottery, with net sales exceeding $67.5 billion, was created in November 1992. Currently it offers more than 100 scratcher games and has 12 draws or computerized games. The lottery tickets are now being sold at over 8,600 authorized retail locations in the state.

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