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Pennsylvania auditor says state lottery needs broader authority to look for fraud

Mega Millions Winners pennsylvania lottery
Keith Srakocic
In this Jan. 22, 2021, file photo, a patron, who did not want to give her name, shows the ticket she had just bought for the Mega Millions lottery drawing at the lottery ticket vending kiosk in Cranberry Township, Pa.

Pennsylvania's auditor general said Monday that lawmakers should give the state lottery broader legal authority to investigate frequent and repeated winning claims by individual lottery players to prevent fraud.

The recommendation to lawmakers by Auditor General Tim DeFoor, the state's independently elected fiscal watchdog, was part of a performance audit that looked at various aspects of the Pennsylvania Lottery.

The Pennsylvania Lottery, one of the nation's largest in sales, reported a record high $5.3 billion in sales in the 2020-21 fiscal year and $1.3 billion in net revenue.

The lottery collects information on people who file winning claims and has the legal authority to investigate winning claims by retailers. But it does not use the information to look for patterns that could indicate fraud and does not believe it has legal authority to investigate non-retailer players, DeFoor said.

DeFoor's office analyzed the claims of 17 players who each filed more than 50 winning claims of at least $600 apiece over nearly three years through March 2, 2020. They collectively won nearly $2.7 million, he said.

Studies have found such claims by a single player are statistically improbable and could be rooted in fraud, DeFoor said.

One of those 17 is the spouse of a retailer. The retailer filed 42 winning claims during same time period, DeFoor said.

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