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Ontario man can't collect lottery prize after he forgets where he bought ticket

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An Ontario man who bought a lottery ticket was thrilled to find out he won, but collecting his winnings turned out to be a challenge.

When he went to claim his prize, he couldn’t remember where the ticket was purchased and has since been unable to claim his windfall.

“Right now I cannot get the money,” Rirong Zhou of Markham told CTV News Toronto.

Zhou purchased a Lotto 6/49 ticket in April of 2023, but only discovered months later that he was a winner.

In October he submitted a claim to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) to collect his winnings of $1,186, but he said he has yet to receive his prize.

“I tried emailing them many times. I called and they said its on the way, but no one has sent the cheque to me,” Zhou said.

Zhou’s friend Ralna Chin has been trying to help him claim his prize and has been frustrated by the process.

“It said if you win over $1,000 you should get your cheque in six to eight weeks, but right now it’s been over a year,” said Chin who added, “ I’m seeking justice for my friend.”

Chin explained the main problem was that OLG wanted to know where Zhou purchased the winning ticket, but he said he couldn’t remember.

“OLG is asking where he bought the ticket, when it was purchased months ago, he just can’t recall where he bought it,” said Chin.

According to OLG, its main priority is to make sure the winning prize goes to the rightful owner of the winning ticket. However, if you do win, there are some questions you may have to answer.

When CTV News reached out to OLG, a spokesperson said in a statement: “OLG always pays the right prize to the rightful owner of a winning ticket. OLG has detailed information about all our lottery tickets sold, for example, exactly when and where it was purchased.”

“The one piece of information we don’t have is the name of the person who purchased the ticket, especially if they purchased it at an authorized lottery retail location. If a customer purchases a ticket on OLG.ca, then they are registered in our system, and we notify them directly when they’ve won a prize.”

The spokesperson added, “When a winning ticket of $1,000 or more is presented for claim, the OLG Prize Centre is required to determine the rightful ownership of that ticket. As part of the standard prize claim review process, claimants are asked a series of questions to determine ticket ownership, such as, 'where did you purchase the ticket?', 'when did you purchase the ticket?' or 'did you purchase any other lottery products such as ENCORE or another game at the same time?'"

“If any responses do not match the information we have, or if incorrect information is provided, or information requested is not provided at all, then the claim undergoes further review which will add extra time to the prize claim process,“ the OLG said.

“I want an explanation from OLG. Why is it taking so long when they have a senior specialist on this?” Chin said.

After CTV News got in touch with OLG, they took another look at Zhou’s case. He’s since been informed his cheque has been processed and will be sent shortly to him in the mail, which was great news for him.

A good habit when buying lottery tickets is to keep the receipt, which also serves as proof of “where and when” you bought it. Also, don’t write anything on the lottery ticket other than your name, as that can slow down the process if you have a winning ticket.   

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