Lottery prepares address-check policy in wake of audit

Boston Statehouse

FILE – In this Jan. 6, 2018 file photo, a Powerball lottery sign displays the lottery prizes at a convenience store in Chicago. Lottery jackpots are going to shrink as the coronavirus pandemic tamps down lottery sales. The group that oversees the Powerball game announced Wednesday, March 25, 2020, that it would cut minimum jackpots in half, from $40 million to $20 million, after there is a winner of the current big prize. The jackpot also could grow more slowly, with minimum increases of $2 million instead of the normal $10 million after each twice-weekly drawing. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh File)

BOSTON (SHNS) – The Massachusetts Lottery is planning to implement a new policy and procedure by the end of this month to ensure that its customer service staff accurately records the address of prize claimants after Auditor Suzanne Bump’s office flagged 39 prizes that could have been claimed by someone with the same address as a Lottery employee.

It is against state law for any Lottery Commission member or employee, or their “spouse, child, brother, sister or parent residing as a member of the same household” to buy a Lottery ticket or claim a Lottery prize. But Bump’s office said in an audit released last week that it identified “39 claimant addresses that were potential matches to MSLC employee addresses and were not identified as such by MSLC during its annual review.”

The Lottery said that its Security and Compliance Department investigated all 39 claims and that the Lottery “obtained reasonable assurance that none of these cases resulted in an employee or ineligible player claiming a prize.”

Still, the agency said it will have a new policy in place by June 30 “to ensure that all MSLC customer service staff are accurately recording claimant name and address information at the time tickets are cashed.”

Bump’s audit said the Lottery had been using Excel and a manual review process to annually compare the addresses of prize claimants and employees, but that a process her office employed — “We used geocoding software (software that provides geographic coordinates corresponding to a location), which increased our ability to match claimant addresses to employee addresses,” the audit said — picked up on the 39 potential matches that the Lottery had missed.

The audit, which looked at the Lottery from April 5, 2019, through March 31, 2020, was meant as a follow-up to an audit that Bump released in 2014. It also pointed to deficiencies in criminal background record checks for Lottery sales agents and in reconciliation reports for terminated sales representatives.

In each area the auditor flagged as a concern, the audit notes that the Lottery “is taking measures to address our concerns.”

“Although deficiencies still remain, today’s report makes clear the Lottery has made significant progress since our last audit and has taken our most recent recommendations seriously,” Bump said when the audit was released June 9. “Right now, as our state recovers from COVID-19, the Lottery’s support for our cities and towns is vital. Moving forward, it will be critical for the Lottery to continue to use and implement all the technological tools at its disposal to continue to modernize and enhance financial security and game integrity.”

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