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Audit targets frequent winners

Lottery spending, procedures eyed

HARRISBURG — The conditions leading to frequent Pennsylvania Lottery winners is the subject of a new performance audit of the state Revenue Department launched Wednesday by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

At a Capitol press conference, DePasquale said he has no evidence that any frequent winners have committed fraud, but he said such an audit is warranted to determine if the Lottery is doing enough to prevent fraud by winners and losers.

Massachusetts, Virginia and some other states have started tracking high-volume lottery prize winners following a media probe of fraudulent activity by frequent winners. DePasquale referred to a case of a Massachusetts man who pleaded guilty earlier this year to running a fraudulent scheme. This scheme involved the purchase of winning tickets from other lottery players at a discount to help them avoid paying taxes, said DePasquale.

The audit will evaluate how effective the revenue department’s regulations, policies and procedures to prevent and monitor fraud are, he added.

“Last fiscal year, Pennsylvania Lottery players bought $4.5 billion in games and claimed more than $2.9 billion in prizes,” said DePasquale. “Seniors, lottery players and the general public deserve to know if every dollar of those prizes was claimed in accordance with the law.”

The revenue department’s sexual harassment policies are also in the audit’s sights.

DePasquale said a review is warranted given a $900,000 payout in 2016 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit against a former department regional manager.

DePasquale said he will also ask questions about Lottery’s spending of more than $1.3 million on consultants to advise on the awarding of a $1 billion contract to manage Instant Games for the next 10 years.

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