Winner Or Loser? Rhode Island Lottery App Error Discovered, Addressed

Eric Raskin

fortune cookie sorry try again

It’s the most fundamental question for anyone who buys a lottery ticket: Did I win or did I lose?

In turn, it’s the most fundamental flaw a lottery app could be struck by: informing customers that a winning ticket is a losing ticket.

The phrase “you had one job” sure comes to mind.

Providence, Rhode Island news outlet GoLocalProv reported Monday on this exact flaw afflicting the Rhode Island Lottery’s app for scratch-off tickets, and followed up Wednesday morning with a report that the lottery acknowledged the error and had fixed it.

“We worked diligently with our vendor to rectify this instant ticket scanning message issue,” Rhode Island Department of Revenue spokesperson Paul Grimaldi told GoLocalProv. “Our vendor developed, tested, and released a fix so that this incorrect instant ticket message no longer appears.”

The vendor in question is IGT. Rhode Island launched its iLottery app in May 2020.

Mixed messages for lottery customers

An East Providence man named Nick Williams brought the problem to GoLocalProv’s attention. Williams said he bought several scratchers at a local 7-11, scratched his way to some wins, and then scanned the tickets on the app and received the message: “SORRY, NOT A WINNER. GOOD LUCK NEXT TIME.”

Several hours later, the app was still telling Williams he’d lost. But about an hour after that, it said, “CONGRATULATIONS!” and acknowledged he’d won.

“The Rhode Island Lottery makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of information available on our website and app,” Grimaldi told GoLocalProv in response to the outlet’s inquiries. “Recently, an app scanning issue was brought to our attention. We identified an incorrect message related to some instant ticket games associated with the scan feature on the app that may occur when the retail lottery system is offline daily from approximately 1:15 a.m. to 5 a.m. (7 a.m. on Sundays).”

Grimaldi emphasized that draw games and iLottery games were “unaffected,” and that the issue only impacted scans of physical scratch tickets.
Still, Williams wondered aloud about the damage done by the glitch before it was fixed.

“I wonder how many people have used this ticket scanner after hours only to throw away an actual winning ticket?” Williams said to GoLocalProv. “On the instant tickets, some of them are difficult to tell if you won or not. For example, on the crossword puzzles, one missed letter can be the difference between a loser and a jackpot winner. That’s why a lot of people check them on their phones.”