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Australian Lottoland Player Misses Out on US Mega Millions Jackpot Due to Time Zone Blunder

An Australian man “betting” on the US Mega Millions lottery draw via secondary lottery site Lottoland believed he had won a share of a $50 million prize until he discovered a time conversion glitch had voided his win, ABC News reports.

Australian’s Northern Territory can either be 13, 14, or 15 hours ahead of EST, depending on the time of year. NT clocks go forward on the first Sunday of October, while in the US they change on the first Sunday of November, but they go back. No wonder everyone got confused. (Image: Getty)

According to a complaint filed with the gaming regulator for Australia’s Northern Territory, the NT Racing Commission, the man, known only as “Mr G,” claimed he lawfully entered his numbers for the draw before the advertised deadline, unaware the draw had actually taken place 27 minutes earlier at the WSB-TV studios in Atlanta, Georgia.

Lottoland offers its customers the chance to “bet” on lottery draws around the world by creating “synthetic” mirror versions. Participants can win the same jackpots as they would if they had won the real draws, despite never actually engaging with the lottery itself. Lottoland takes out special insurance policies against big winners and is covered by up to $123 million a year.

Time Bomb

According to the complaint, Mr G placed his bet at 11:27am, Australian Western Standard Time (AWST) on October 14, 2017, 33 minutes before the advertised draw time of 12 noon AWST.

Lottoland had failed to convert the time correctly from EST to AWST, but even though the company had made an error, neither it nor its insurer were ever likely to pay out $50 million to someone who had submitted the winning numbers after the draw had taken place when the results could be easily accessed online.

“The commission accepts that for a number of weeks of the year, Lottoland’s advertised (Australian) conversion of the draw time is not correct, however the US time is always advertised correctly,” the regulator’s report said.

The confusion is perhaps understandable, considering that AWST can be either 13, 14, or 15 hours ahead of EST.

In Australia clocks go forward on the first Sunday of October, while they don’t change in Georgia until the first Sunday of November — and they go back. It’s confusing but it’s Lottoland’s job to know this stuff because its core business is about offering products to people in separate time zones.

T&C’s Prevail

Nevertheless, Lottoland argued the error was irrelevant because its t&c’s explicitly state that bets will not be accepted after a draw has commenced “irrespective of a wrong deadline displayed on the website.”

The regulator agreed, declaring that the “the terms and conditions must prevail in this situation.”

“The complainant by signing up to Lottoland’s website agreed to all of its terms and conditions and it is a matter for him to ensure that he is conversant with them,” it added.

Mr G’s bet was automatically entered into a subsequent draw — but lightening failed to strike twice.

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