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They Won’t Pay! The Wild Adventure of the Undocumented Lotto Winner Fighting for his Winnings

Posted on April 27, 2022 | 5:59 pm

It’s every gambler’s wildest dream…

… as well as their worst nightmare!

Imagine a smallish lotto bet – in this case around $5 – hitting big.

Very big.

Actually, bigger than big. We’re talking about a monster payout €250,000 (about $270,000)!

But then, when it’s time to claim the payout, you run into problems.

When it comes to less-than-reputable casinos, especially of the online variety, issues with withdrawing payments, these sorts of issues aren’t uncommon. But what about when the bet in question is a lottery ticket purchased at a brick-and-mortar shop?

This is the wild situation currently being faced by an Algerian man in Belgium. Although he purchased his ticket legally, he was staying in the country without documentation. And since standard procedure calls for prizes larger than €100,00 (about $108,000) to claim their prize at the national lottery’s headquarters in Brussels, the lack of papers (or a bank account) cause major difficulties.

To put it mildly, this is a unique situation in gaming. But it must be said that Belgian authorities seem to be honoring their side of the agreement!

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What Went Down

what_went_downThe situation may be complicated, but it’s not at all unclear.

It seems that a 28-year-old man purchased an instant win scratchcard ticket in the port city of Zeebrugge. Incidentally, this is a popular location for those trying to enter Great Britain extra-legally, sometimes concealed in trucks shipping containers. When the lucky winner realized his good fortune, he also quickly realized that the size of his good luck was going to make next steps very messy indeed!

First, he opted not to try to claim his winnings in person, sending three friends on his behalf instead. This tactic was not terribly successful: the men, who were also from North Africa but were in Belgium legally, were detained overnight by authorities.

The second tactic met with a better outcome. The man (whose identity has not yet been revealed) retained a lawyer, as have so many winning gamblers before him when. The legal representative, Alexander Verstraete, quickly saw to it that the man’s friends were released from detention, and has since gotten to work seeing to it that his client receives his rightful payday!

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How Will This Be Resolved?

Things are very much still up in the air.

As of now, the latest news is that Mr. Verstraete is contacting his client’s family in Algeria in order to access the documents necessary to prove his identity.

What is encouraging, from our perspective as a champion of the players at least, is that Belgian authorities seem to have committed to paying the full prize. According to the winner’s legal representative, they have promised not to deport the man until after he has received his prize.

Although deportation is hardly something most undocumented people would look upon favorably, one could certainly imagine governmental authorities elsewhere (in the USA, for example) insisting that, as the man was not in the country at the time the ticket was purchased, they were under no obligation to pay. While perhaps a legally defensible (and certainly enforceable!) position, any true gambler would recognize this as a welcher’s way out.

It remains to be seen if the lucky winner will in fact see his full winnings. But early signs are looking positive!

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The Takeaway

While this is quite a story, it’s far from the experience of most gamblers who enjoy playing online. What does all of this mean for the likes of us?

Well, for everyday players, the moral of the story is simple: fight like hell for your winnings! Whether it’s a six-figure jackpot win or a simple bonus of an extra 50 bucks, it’s crucial to advocate fiercely for every cent!

Whether you’re a rank amateur, an intermediate player, or a stone cold professional with decades of experience, there will be times when obstacles are placed between you and your rightful winnings. After all, it’s in the casino’s interest to do so!

In moments like this, all too many gamers prefer to avoid the conflict. Is it really worth it, they might think? Maybe the hassle doesn’t seem worth the payout (we usually aren’t thinking about payments of a quarter of a million dollars!), or the stress of seeking out external support looks like more struggle than it’s worth. Maybe you’re playing with friends and don’t want to break up the fun of the night by putting your foot down over an unpaid (or underpaid) bet.

But gaming lawyers exist for a reason, and casinos fear them for a reason!

Viewed in this way, the Algerian lotto winner is a kind of inspiration for us all. Every structural reason was in place for him not to fight for his winnings… yet he doubled down, and lawyered up!

We wish him every success in this matter, and hope that with his enhanced financial resources he’ll be able to stroll into his next nation of employment in style – and with full documentation!

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