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'It's Totally Ridiculous!' New York Lottery Winners Waiting Months To Cash Tickets While Service Centers Scale Back

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Cashing the winning ticket has become a real ordeal for some New York Lottery winners.

Some players said they've been waiting weeks, even months, to cash their winning tickets, CBS2's Tony Aiello reported Thursday.

Lottery service centers have scaled back operations because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"You win $900, you gotta wait four months for your money. It's crazy!" said Pat Ferraro.

"I don't see why we have to go through this," said Grace Aliperti.

"It's totally ridiculous," Josephine Lanzieri told Aiello.


Deborah Armstead brought her $2,500 winner to Resorts World Casino in Queens, only to find out the lottery service center inside is closed with no firm date for reopening.

Armstead questions how the privately-owned casino could pull things together to reopen, but the state-owned lottery could not.

"It's unfair... Cuomo, you need to do something about this. You open the casinos, and yet we still cannot cash our winning numbers," said Armstead.

With the office inside Resorts World Casino closed, there are no lottery service centers open anywhere in New York City.

RELATED STORY: Road To Reopening: New Yorkers Eagerly Line Up Outside Malls And Casinos

"To me, it just looks like they're just trying to hold your money. That's what it looks like," said Ferraro, who drove from Brooklyn to Plainview to cash a big winner.

The Nassau County lottery office is open by appointment only. Aiello checked the state lottery website Thursday morning and found the next available appointment in Plainview is right before Thanksgiving.

Winning tickets worth less than $600 can be cashed at any retailer. Larger prizes can also be redeemed through the mail or put into a service center drop box.

"I just don't trust the mail," said Ferraro.

"I would never do the mail-in," said Armstead.

So, in New York, what used to be a simple walk-in process, may now involve a long wait or a drive upstate.

"Now I have to go all the way to Schenectady to cash my ticket," said Armstead.

That's 300 miles round trip to get her $2,500 winnings.

The New York State Gaming Commission sent CBS2 the following statement:

The Commission continues to examine how we can reestablish service within gaming facilities while minimizing novel coronavirus risk to both Lottery patrons and facility employees.  We will finalize a process as soon as practicable. In the interim, Lottery Customer Service Centers throughout the State are open, albeit in a controlled atmosphere.  The Centers accept guests on an appointment basis, with strict protocols regarding personal protective equipment and sanitization required to be observed by both patrons and Lottery personnel.  Alternatives to in-person Customer Service Centers redemption also exist.  All prizes $600 or less may be redeemed at any licensed Lottery sales agent.  The Commission also maintains a full service Prize Payments Unit which processes lottery ticket claims that have been sent to our Schenectady office.

A spokesperson for the lottery told Aiello they understand the frustrations, and that they're working to safely open service centers inside casinos as soon as possible.

They'll be by appointment only.

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