Lotteries may track $17 million winner

It does not matter to the New Zealand Lotteries Commission who bought the $17,166,667 winning Lotto ticket in Twizel last month.

All it cares about is who ‘‘the bearer’’ is when it comes to claiming the prize.

The winning ticket was bought at The Market Store in Twizel on December 28 but has yet to be presented.

While the commission might have the bank card number of the person who bought it — it is not saying — the rules make it clear, possession of the ticket is all that matters.

The rules are part of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1977.

The ticket must be valid, of course, but then the commission ‘‘must recognise only the bearer of the ticket as the owner’’.

The rules note the court could override that position.

For a lost or stolen ticket, the legislation offers no sympathy.

‘‘Neither the commission nor any other retailer is responsible or liable as a result of the payment of a prize to the bearer of any lost or stolen ticket, whether or not advice of the loss or theft has been reported or notified to the commission before payment of the prize.’’

Lotto is preparing to employ a private investigator to track the holder of the winning ticket.

Asked if bank card details might be used, Lotto spokeswoman Marie Winfield said: ‘‘We do know how the person paid for the ticket, but we're keeping that to ourselves.

‘‘In general terms, when we need to locate a winner we gather a range of information, including how they paid for the ticket and when they purchased it.

‘‘There have only been several instances where we have had to track winners down as most people who win big prizes contact us within the first few days.’’

If they did not hear from the winner in the next few days Lotto would make every effort to find them.

‘‘We have some snippets of information about the winning ticket to pass on to a private investigator to locate the missing millionaire.’’

It is calculated the ticket holder is missing out on $1358 of interest income per day.

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