To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

Lottery winners have winnings withheld after making ‘simple mistake’

Lottery winners have winnings withheld after making ‘simple mistake’

Officials have claimed they are now looking into the various issues.

Various US residents have claimed their lottery winnings have been withheld, and it may be down to an annoying glitch in the system.

According to statistics, Americans spent a whopping $105.26 billion on lottery tickets last year alone - making it one of the biggest contributors to the gambling industry.

Despite having a one in 292.2 million chance of ever winning the big jackpot, recent polling data shows that around 50 percent of USA-based players buy a ticket at least once a year.

So, even though the odds are firmly stacked against us, it seems we can’t get enough of taking our chances when they come.

One lucky lottery winner, Bob Calamita, recently won a tidy $1,000 prize and headed down to his local office to collect his prize.

However, when he tried to cash in his ticket, he was slapped with a letter from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity claiming he owed them money.

It’s stated that Calamita, who won back in March, would need to fork out $3,000 for an unemployment overpayment made during the pandemic.

Speaking to WFLA, the winner said: "I stay there about an hour and a half to be told ‘Sorry, you’re not getting this because you owe money on the DEO system’.

Bob Calamita eventually received his lottery winnings. (WPEC)
Bob Calamita eventually received his lottery winnings. (WPEC)

“If I owed money, I would have paid it. I have no problem with that, but I didn’t owe money.”

After some back-and-forth, it’s said that the state eventually handed Calamita a cheque for the full $1,000 he was owed.

An investigation claimed that there had been a mix-up and a computer-generated error in its fraud system had incorrectly flagged the man as a perpetrator.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has previously stated it's looking into the problem.

Interestingly, Calamita isn’t the only Florida resident who allegedly had their lottery winnings withheld.

Kathleen Lambert headed to Florida Lottery office in Gainesville after winning $1,000 on a scratch card - only to be told she had a $1,200 debt to settle.

“Talk about a thrill,” she told WOFL. “I was so excited, laughing and showing everybody, but that was very short-lived when we drove an hour and a half to the Gainesville lottery office waiting for that nice check. And my jaw dropped."

Kathleen Lambert thought her winnings being withheld was 'sneaky'. (FOX 35 News)
Kathleen Lambert thought her winnings being withheld was 'sneaky'. (FOX 35 News)

It’s claimed that Lambert’s husband owed $1,200 from unemployment benefit overpayments during the pandemic.

However, she said that they hadn’t been informed about the debt and had previously paid out $275 after receiving an overpayment letter.

“I think it’s downright sneaky,” she admitted. “It’s like, we don’t owe you any money, you overpaid, you waived it you said, but then if you win the lottery you don’t get anything.”

FloridaCommerce has previously said it was looking into the case.

It seems as if Lambert and Calamita’s winnings being withheld was due to the Multi-State Lottery Association’s legislation.

They say that if residents owe debts, child support or taxes, states can allow their agencies to collect those funds from lottery winnings.

Featured Image Credit: WPEC/ ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Topics: Lottery, Money, Florida, US News