BOSTON (WHDH) — The Massachusetts State Lottery is taking action following a 7NEWS investigation into winning ticket cashing.
Several Boston-area businesses have been notified that their Lottery licenses are being suspended. The disciplinary action follows a 7NEWS investigation, which aired in May and uncovered several owners of businesses where Lottery tickets are sold winning big themselves – over and over and over again.
Five businesses will be banned from selling Lottery products for 30 days.
7NEWS discovered that, in the past five years, the owners of five businesses where Lottery tickets are sold had claimed at least 150 large prizes each. One store owner alone cashed 341 winning tickets. The combined jackpot for all five business owners was about $1.5 million.
“Mathematically, that’s just impossible,” said Michael Sweeney, the Lottery’s Executive Director.
Last spring, three of the retailers admitted to 7NEWS that they were cashing tickets for other people – but they wouldn’t say why.
It’s against Lottery rules to cash winning tickets for someone else in order to help them avoid paying off debts, like unpaid taxes and child support.
“We think it’s a very serious situation,” Sweeney said.
Lottery officials then investigated the businesses 7NEWS examined: 7 Eleven Store #37488 in Dedham, Vinny’s Food Market in Revere, Cavan Cafe in Hyde Park, East Coast Variety in East Boston, and the 350 Grill in Springfield.
The Lottery found that all of the business owners violated Lottery rules.
“We do think what was happening is that these individuals were representing other people, perhaps in an attempt to avoid child support payments or other tax obligations,” Sweeney said.
The Lottery said four of the business owners were buying winning tickets from other people, and then keeping part of the winnings for themselves.
“It’s not fair to our regular players, and it’s also not fair to the taxpayers of the Commonwealth,” Sweeney said.
The business owners have 30 days to appeal their Lottery license suspensions, but as of Tuesday, none had done so. The suspensions will take effect after the appeal window ends, and the Lottery will place the licenses on probation for one year following the end of the suspensions.
7NEWS reached out to the five business owners on Tuesday. The owner of the 7 Eleven in Dedham said that the discipline is too harsh, and is jeopardizing his business. The owner of Vinny’s Food Market said that he’ll never cash another Lottery ticket.
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