CA lottery makes million dollar mistake

September 24, 2009 7:11:22 PM PDT
If somebody at your office made a multi-million dollar mistake, you'd expect that person to be held accountable, right? Well, not if you work for the state lottery.

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Lottery leaders now say nobody will pay the price for an expensive game-show gaffe

Josefina Sineriz of Bakersfield may think she won $2.8 million on the California Lottery's "Make Me a Millionaire" show because luck was on her side, but it was actually due to a clerical error.

In a stunning audit, workers sent a set of players that should have been on Show two to Show three and vice versa. That's important, because each show is assigned different games, with different jackpots.

Had procedures been followed, Josefina would not have been eligible for the game that eventually made her rich.

"There was nothing compromised with the integrity of the game. This was simply a human error in transposing," said California Lottery Director Joan Borucki.

Borucki says she will not reprimand the employees who made the mistake because it's a new game and the March 21st show was only the third taping.

"I don't know how many times a day do the rest of us make little mistakes here and there and do we make a felony case out of it for that," said Borucki.

An assembly committee wants to get to the bottom of the goof-up, and it's chairman thinks someone should be punished.

"Absolutely, there should be accountability. Someone should be dealt with in relation to these mistakes," said Assm. Hector de la Torre D-Southgate.

Some lottery players say the error won't change their buying habits but they would like to see their dollar spent on staff that makes sure games are fair and accurate.

"I think someone should be made to be held accountable. There should be some type of reprimands going on up at the high levels," said lottery player Bob Niehaus.

Several players, including Josefina, who won more than they would have had they been on the right show, get to keep the money

Eight who won less because they ended up on the wrong show will get another chance. The Lottery has made some changes to ensure this doesn't happen again. That includes having a veteran auditor oversee each show's procedures.

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