California father and son denied $5 million scratchcard prize as state weighs in with possible action

  • Players filed against Lottery Commission over withheld winnings
  • State alleges that win is invalid as minor purchased ticket

The State of California has weighed in on a lawsuit between a Long Beach resident and the state’s Lottery Commission over an unpaid $5 million win.

A lawsuit against the California Lottery Commission about unpaid scratchcard winnings has been turned back against the player itself.
A lawsuit against the California Lottery Commission about unpaid scratchcard winnings could be turned back against the player itself.

The original case was filed by the player after the Commission withheld his winnings, after it was revealed that his underage son actually purchased the winning ticket.

The player, Ward Thomas, says that the gas station where the tickets were purchased failed to make it clear that the tickets must only be sold to over-18s – and has named them as jointly liable in the suit, along with the state and the Lottery Commission.

16-year-old denied lottery winnings by Commission

The original case was filed in June at the Los Angeles County Superior Court, reports the LA Times, and relates to events in October 2016. Mr Thomas had sent his son into the gas station to purchase lottery scratchcard tickets, known as Scratchers, using the winnings from previously purchased tickets.

According to Ward, the 16-year-old was able to exchange his tickets for the fresh ones, which he handed to his father. Later that day, Mr Ward played his tickets and found he had won a $5 million jackpot – which was validated the next day at the Santa Ana district office.

However, the lottery commission checked the footage of the ticket purchase – as is standard when big prizes are won – and discovered that is was not Mr Ward who bought the ticket, but his underage son. As a result, the ticket was declared invalid and the winnings were not paid, which has prompted Mr Ward to seek legal action against the gas station, the state’s gambling board and also the state itself.

District Attorney reminds court of legal restrictions

In a filing made at the LA court and seen by CBS4 Los Angeles, Deputy Attorney General James Waian makes clear that a person buying a ticket underage is committing an offense.

“The plaintiff is seeking to profit from admittedly participating in illegal gambling by a minor and claiming a prize on an invalid ticket, activity that the California Lottery specifically protects against,” says Waian in the court papers.

“Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

It is not clear if the state will seek action against Mr Thomas and his son at this stage, but the legal evidence will be considered during the civil suit. If prosecution is sought by the state, Mr Ward and his son could face a large fine as well as being denied their lottery prize.

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