The Lotto Matrix: Man Versus Powerball, Alabama Senate Slowing Roll On Gambling, More

Christian Holmes

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lottery matrix

Welcome to this week’s “Lotto Matrix,” a weekly Friday compilation of the lottery industry’s most significant, interesting, or absurd happenings.

Man cries foul over Powerball numbers

Washington D.C. man John Cheeks is publicly crying foul over a Powerball jackpot drawing in January 2023, and is continuing the drive for justice in court. It appears it’s going to be an uphill battle.

The dispute began on Jan. 6 of that year when, after the drawing took place, Cheeks went online to check his tickets at the DC Lottery’s website. Once there, he claims he discovered that the numbers on his ticket matched the numbers displayed. The thing was, the numbers were faulty. Powerball administrators told the New York Times that the numbers Cheeks saw on the website were part of a test that had been “mistakenly posted” rather than the actual winning numbers for the drawing.

Now Cheeks is suing several groups that run the Powerball for breach of contract, gross negligence, and the infliction of emotional distress, among other claims, for not giving him the prize money. Cheeks has asked for $340 million in compensation, damages, plus interest on the would-be winnings.

Cheeks told NBC Washington that while trying to get his prize, a claims staffer said, “Hey, this ticket is no good. Just throw it in the trash can,’” Cheeks said. “And I gave him a stern look. I said, ‘In the trash can?’ ‘Oh yeah, just throw it away. You’re not gonna get paid. There’s a trash can right there.’”

Ouch, that’s gotta hurt. And it should, according to Cheek’s lawyer. Why? “This is not merely about numbers on a website,” Richard Evans said in a statement. “It’s about the reliability of institutions that promise life-changing opportunities, while heavily profiting in the process.”

Defendants Taoti Enterprises, a DC-based digital advertising firm that manages the DC Lottery’s website, believes Cheeks’ case is fanciful thinking, but the show goes on for now. A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for Friday.

The odds of actually winning Powerball are incredibly slim — about 1 in 292.2 million – but how about Cheeks likelihood of winning his case here?  Lottery Geeks’ Evan Lambert asked Holy Cross Economics and Accounting Professor Victor A. Matheson, a frequent researcher on lotteries and gambling matters, what he thinks.

“Almost certainly he won’t win this, right?” Matheson said. “It all depends on what the video shows. They do the draw in a very, very open and public area, and very specifically you want stuff like transparency to make sure that no one thinks the lottery is fixed. As soon as someone thinks the lottery is fixed, they can no longer sell hope or sell the dream if they think it’s fixed in some way. So they’re pretty transparent about this, and obviously you don’t want to get someone’s hopes up on a mistaken tweet or a typo, but generally you’re not allowed to sue for $340 million for a typo.”

Alabama Senate will take its time with gambling legislation  

Alabama’s uphill battle to get House Bill 151 and House Bill 152 passed became a bit steeper this week. The Senators have some problems with the way the bills are worded, even if the House didn’t. The legislation would usher in a state lottery, traditional casinos and casino-style games, and online and in-person sports wagering,

According to 1819 News, State Sen. Will Barfoot told reporters on Tuesday he has issues with the legislation in its current form.

“There’s some issues with the bill, though, so we’ll see where that goes,” Barfoot said. “It’s better for me to keep those to myself at this point and try to work to try to fix those. I don’t want to create any division. I think this is something we need to look at and look at very carefully and slowly and I think the members of the Senate will do that.”

Some of Barfoot’s colleagues have expressed reticence to move quickly, too.

State Senate President Greg Reed said at a Tuesday morning event at the Business Council of Alabama, “We’re gonna spend some time on it. It’s important. As you’ve heard me say, and I say to my members often, when you listen to everybody’s input, you wind up with a better product. So we’re going to do just that on this particular issue.”

Rolling with a gut feeling

A Maryland woman took Noel Gallager’s advice to heart and rolled with her gut feeling when she spent a bit extra on a scratch-off ticket. That gamble netted her $50k.

According to what the woman, who remained anonymous, told the Maryland Lottery, she usually buys the cheaper $1 or $2 tickets, but she had this urge to buy a $10 50X scratch-off. “I knew that I was supposed to spend more than usual, so I looked for a $10 ticket.” This new game has seven remaining $100,000 top prizes and seven $50,000 second-tier prizes.

“This was probably only the third ticket I bought this year,” said the employee of a home health agency. “I just don’t play often.” Scratch that, though, while she was at Walmart, it happened. “I can’t explain it any other way, it was just a feeling, a very specific feeling. 

“I knew that I was supposed to spend more than usual, so I looked for a $10 ticket.” 

As the old saying goes, the rest was history.

“My fiancée and I couldn’t believe it when we saw what we’d won. I told him, ‘This can’t mean what I think it means.’” The pair downloaded the Lottery app and were soon convinced that their $50,000 win was confirmed. “I started shaking…and laughing.” When asked about the laughter, the lucky caregiver attributed it to “the feeling I got in the store. I knew I was going to win.”

The first time is the charm

A Michigan man decided to buy a $5 Wild Side scratch ticket on his 21st birthday. Much to his surprise, he won a massive $500k prize.

The anonymous winner said, “I had never played the Lottery before, but I’ve seen my mom purchase tickets now and again, so I decided to buy one while I was at the store. I didn’t know how to play the game, so I took the ticket home and had my parents walk me through it. When we revealed the $500,000 prize, we didn’t think it was real.

“We went to the Lottery office in Saginaw to have them look at the ticket,” the player continued. “When they confirmed it really was a $500,000 winner, we were in disbelief. I knew right then that this money was about to change my life. What makes it even more exciting is that today is my 21st birthday!” 

The man said he’d use his winnings to pay off his tuition, and the rest would go into a savings account. 

Best of the rest


Last call: Michigan Lottery player only has one month left to claim $1 million Mega Millions prize.

Moving up: SC Lottery names Dolly Garfield as the new Executive Director.

What’s the catch?: SC state audit reveals lottery issues.

Hooked: A psychiatrist tried to quit gambling. Betting apps worked against her.

Winning the U.S.: DraftKings’ home turf ambitions.

Responsible gambling: The search for responsible gambling research continues in Ontario.

Check the prize box and see you next week!