An executive of Glendinning Companies Inc.--one of three firms vying for Washington's instant lottery franchise--denied yesterday that his firm is being investigated by Ohio officials for failing to pay 13 people who apparently held winning Ohio instant lottery tickets.
However, an Ohio assistant attorney general said yesterday that the firm is being investigated.
Harry C. Fleming Jr., executive vice president of Glendinning, said he was surprised by a report that his firm was under investigation by the Ohio attorney general's office and the state lottery commission for failing to pay $50,000 in prize money to 13 persons, since it was his "understanding" that the state lottery commission, not his firm, was responsible for paying prize winners.
"I don't know what's to investigate," said Fleming. "We have not refused to pay. I am not aware of any probe or investigation on the part of the Ohio lottery and cannot understand why it has been suggested. We've requested to see the tickets and it's simply a technical matter that needs to be taken care of."
Fleming said his Westport, Conn., firm has been "engaged in normal business discussions" with Ohio lottery officials since February in an attempt to resolve the questions stemming from the firm's handling of tickets for "Horse Race," a state-sanctioned instant lottery that Glendinning has operated since August. He said, though, that he has not yet seen the 13 tickets in question.
"I can't account for what he Fleming is not aware of," said Colleen K. Nissl, an assistant attorney general in Ohio. "Our position is they [Glendinning] are to pay the prize value of the tickets."
She said that although the state normally pays prize winners, Glendinning must issue checks in cases where there is a dispute over the authenticity of tickets that subsequently are found genuine. The 13 tickets in question, Nissl said, were tested by two independent laboratories in Ohio and were found to be misprinted, not altered by the contestants.
Nissl said that since Ohio's lottery contract requires any company operating a lottery in the state to "pay the prize value on any ticket that was misprinted or produced in error," Glendinning must pay the 13 ticket holders.
Nissl accused Glendinning, which also operates state-sanctioned instant lotteries in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Illinois, of dragging its feet during the six-month-old effort to resolve the "Horse Race" ticket dispute and said the company remains under investigation in Ohio for failing to pay the 13 prize winners.
"It's not that they have refused to pay, they just haven't paid," Nissl said. "From the very first we told them they could see the tickets in question. They never requested the tickets until two weeks ago," she said.
"No printing is infallible," Fleming said. "We are certainly not going to court over something like this."