The South Carolina Lottery is facing a lose-lose situation over a botched lottery game that allowed everyone who played it to win-win.

Is South Carolina Lottery the victim of a Bad Santa?

The South Carolina Lottery’s Holiday Cash Add-A-Play game created 42,000 winners in the space of two hours on Christmas Day. Some suspect it’s the work of a “Bad Santa.” (Image: Colombia Pictures)

For players of the Holiday Cash Add-A-Play game, it was like Christmas had come early, except that it actually was Christmas, so in this case Christmas was pretty much bang on time.

Because, for more than two hours on December 25, 2017, everyone was a winner when the lottery accidentally printed 42,000 winning tickets.

The Holiday Cash game played like tic-tac-toe, but rather than linking zeros or crosses, the aim was to find three Christmas trees in a row. Because of a monumental glitch, however, every single ticket sold showed Christmas trees across all nine squares, like an alpine forest, instead of the maximum five that were supposed to have been printed.

That’s the magic of Christmas, except the South Carolina Lottery wasn’t really feeling it.

South Carolina Lottery Turns Ever Green

South Carolina may have to fork out over $33 million in winnings thanks to this festive misadventure, money that was earmarked for school busses and scholarships.

But here’s that Catch 22: if lottery officials don’t cough up, there is the alarming possibility they will face 42,000 lawsuits. If they do, they face lawsuits from advocacy groups that are already pointing out the lottery commission is not supposed to pay out on misprinted tickets.

Either way, it’s an administrative headache for the lottery commission, and one that’s severely damaging to public trust.

The lottery in our state has a lot at stake with our credibility,” observed David Kornegay, a member of the lottery oversight panel, at a hearing on Thursday. “It’s problematic for me to say, ‘These were misprints, and we’re not going to pay.’ “

Meanwhile, the schools will have to go without their funding as the money remains in limbo, possibly for years, while the inevitable lawsuits are resolved.

Satanic Cyber Santa?

Lottery Director Hogan Brown told the hearing that he had hired the services of Gaming Laboratories International of New Jersey to investigate the fiasco, and to establish whether Intralot, the South Carolina’s Lottery’s Greek technology provider, is in any way liable.

But many believe the timing of the glitch points to darker forces: there have been rumors that a sinister South Carolina cyber-Santa has been pulling the strings from the shadows.

“This smells a lot like somebody’s idea of being Santa Claus on Christmas Day,” said Neil Robinson, chairman of the Education Oversight Committee and member of the lottery panel.