Scratch-Off Screwup: N.Y. ‘Daily News’ Wants Game Card Co. to Pay

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By: Joe Strupp

The New York Daily News wants the company that manufactures its scratch-off game cards — which mistakenly allowed thousands of people to believe they had won a contest Saturday — to “go beyond what the rules say” and pay more money to the would-be winners.

“We think that more money should be paid to people who have a valid claim,” Daily News spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told E&P Monday. “It was their mistake, they gave us the wrong number.” She declined to elaborate on what specifically would be requested.

Officials at D.L. Blair, the company that operates the game and provides the cards, could not be reched for comment Monday morning. A company Web site indicated the Daily News had been a client since 1972.

The paper has hired an outside investigator, Hawthorne Investigations, to review the error, according to Murphy, who added that no decisions had been made about whether to sever ties with D.L. Blair. “Our relationship with them is under review,” she said. “Pending the investigation.”

This appears to be the third time since 1994 that the paper has had a problem with a D.L. Blair game, Murphy said. But she said the previous errors were less-extensive and included some error by the Daily News itself.

The current game, launched earlier this month, provides readers with a 15-number scratch-off card each Sunday. They are then directed to check each day’s paper to find out which 10 numbers to scratch off the card for each day. If the 10 scratched off numbers reveal the same prize three times, they win that prize.

The mistake on Saturday occurred because the paper printed the number 13, as the game operator D.L. Blair directed, instead of 12. That allowed more people to believe they had won.

In a story in Monday’s paper, the Daily News said it had launched an internal investigation to determine how so many people were given incorrect game cards that made them believe they had won the contest, which would have paid each $100,000.

In Monday’s paper, a spokesman said, “We are as upset as our readers at what has happened and are determined to carry out this inquiry on their behalf.”

“We pride ourselves on defending our readers’ interests, and this case is no different,” the spokesman continued. “An independent investigative company will be brought in to carry out the inquiry. It will start work today.”

Daily News officials clearly blamed the error on the agency that runs the game and offered apologies to those who believed they had won.

“The judging agency D.L. Blair, which runs the game for the Daily News, profoundly apologizes for and regrets any inconvenience that the incorrect numbers may have caused,” the paper stated.

Newspaper officials reminded readers that the game’s official rules state “if an error causes more prizes to be claimed than are intended to be awarded for any prize level, the actual recipients of those prizes will be determined in a random drawing of valid game pieces.”

Right now, plans call for any player who was a mistaken winner to enter a drawing that will be conducted in July. But if the paper has its way, more prizes could be forthcoming.

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