There is something amiss with hundreds of lottery winners who keep winning and winning and winning in Massachusetts, or so the state lottery officials believe. For that reason, they've been attempting to put a policy in place, one that awards people who frequently cash lottery tickets with bans that freeze your winnings. The policy was slated to go into effect back on October 1, of last year but it was delayed and lucky for Ali Jaafar this is the case.

According to WBUR News, Jaafar, who hails from Watertown, has won millions of dollars from thousands of scratch tickets.

He has held the title of the "state's winningest lottery player" for the past two years. When this lottery policy goes into place, this policy is designed so all this ticket cashing for him and others like him, will leave them facing a ban from collecting future lottery winnings for a specific time limit.

Oh, to win the lottery, that is a dream that many people share and while in Massachusetts it is fine if you win big, just don't do it too many times or you could be facing some trouble in the future. You must have seen them in their cars outside the convenience stores and in the supermarket parking lots, scratching their lottery tickets.

Some of those folks seem to make a full-time job out of scratching those pieces of cardboard from the Mass Lottery known as lottery scratch tickets.

If they are truly lucky, their luck might hit a stone wall when it comes to cashing numerous winning tickets in throughout the year.

Getting a handle on frequent flyers

While lottery tickets are sold all over the nation in the various states that allow these state-run gambling games, Massachusetts is attempting to get a better handle on things by implementing a new policy, which was slated to go into effect last year.

There's not much news about this policy today, only that it is not up and running as of yet, so those of you who make frequent trips to lottery headquarters might want to enjoy it while you can.

The limits

According to the Massachusetts State Lottery website, prizes under $600 can be cashed at any lottery agent, like the store where you purchased the ticket.

For a prize of $600 or under, you don't need to give proof of who you are and the lottery agent doesn't take any taxes out of your win. That changes if the prize money you are collecting is over $600.

If your win is between $601 to $49,999, then you need to take the ticket to one of the several regional lottery offices in the state. For any amount over $600, you have to show proof of who you are and your social security number is attached to the win. Prizes of $50,000 and over are awarded only at Massachusetts State Lottery headquarters in Braintree. While Braintree is a bit of a journey for those folks who live in Western Massachusetts, collecting such a large sum of money of over $50,000 makes the trip worth it for most folks.

Proof of who you are and taxes

When your win is over $600, the lottery officials take out money for taxes and your social security number is run to see if you owe any money to the state tax people, IRS or child support. If you do owe any back sums, while they have your winning money in hand, they take it out. This is more than likely one of the reasons the lottery officials are seeing individuals make more trips than the law of averages provides for.

Dodging past debts?

It seems some unscrupulous folks who might owe state taxes, federal taxes, or child support will find someone else to cash their winning ticket for them. Someone who has a clean slate by owing nothing to the various agencies can cash the ticket and walk away, with only the taxes from the winnings taken out.

The lottery people are seeing certain individuals come in and cash quite a few tickets and their theory is either these folks are extremely lucky, which doesn't add up mathematically to the odds of winning the lottery or they are up to no good. They could be cashing the tickets for people who cannot cash their own without sums of money being withheld for finances they owe.

Over this last year or so, Michael Sweeney, who is the executive director of the state lottery, has been attempting to put a policy in place that will potentially limit the number of tickets one person cashes in a 12-month period. Sweeny believes in some cases, money laundering is involved by folks who owe money that legally should come out of their winnings.

Professional ticket cashers tread carefully

Massachusetts State Lottery officials aren't attempting to pick on the legitimate winners of lottery prizes. They are, however, attempting to put this policy in place to go after those folks who make frequent trips to the lottery headquarters and regional offices for those who owe money and won't do it themselves. These are the locations you need to visit for cashing in a winning ticket when your prize is over the amount of $600. People are also required to show proof of who they are when winning more than $600.

According to Mass Live in an article published last year, if you have claimed 20 or more prizes in the past year totaling $20,000 or more, the lottery puts you on a list they frequently compile.

This is a win-rate that puts up red flags. That list is shared with law enforcement agencies and state and federal tax collectors.

Penalties in place

Under this policy they are trying to get in place, these "professional ticket cashers" were originally going to face a penalty if they "claim six or more Lottery prizes of $1,000 or more during the course of any consecutive 12-month period." The new and improved version is a bit more forgiving, changing the number of times to 20 instead of six, according to WBUR News.

This new policy gives the executive director of the Massachusetts State Lottery the authority to suspend that individual's ability to claim additional prizes for a certain period of time, according to Mass Live.

There are different levels of bans that will be put into place depending upon the number of violations a person has when and if the policy goes into effect.

The violations bans

If an individual cashes in more than 20 winning tickets totaling over $20,000 in a period of 12-consecutive months the policy purposes these violations below:

  • 1st violation - the person is under a 30-day ban from claiming additional prizes.
  • 2nd violation - the person is banned for 180 days on claiming additional prizes.
  • 3rd violation and "subsequent violations" leaves the person facing a 365-day freeze on cashing new prize claims. ( This was under the original policy, it is not known if a 365-day freeze is in the new revised proposed policy).

The person facing any of these bans does have a right to an appeals hearing, which is conducted by the lottery officials.

WBUR News explains the new proposed policy bans: "Win $1,000 or more at least 20 times within 12 months, and the lottery will freeze your future winnings for 90 days. You could cash in again after that freeze, but if you win another 20 times, your prizes will be held for 180 days."

When will this policy go into place? WBUR wrote in April that the lottery folks say they are getting closer to its debut as they are in the "late stages" of its completion.