The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune: Can You “Lose” the Lottery but Still Win?
This article discusses potential legal arguments that can be made for a lottery player in a seemingly hopeless situation: buying a winning lottery ticket immediately before the deadline, only to find out that the ticket was mistakenly dated for the next week’s draw. Although the lottery rules and regulations and the courts’ interpretation thereof are strongly slanted against lottery players, the authors nevertheless argue that a consistent and coherent application of traditional contract law principles could favour the claimant. They note that Canadian courts have rarely been consistent in their application of contract law to lottery situations, with courts sometimes characterizing lottery advertisements as both an offer and an invitation to treat. Even so, whether the lottery corporation is construed as the offeror or the offeree, the authors contend that a diligent analysis of the formation of the underlying contract could entitle the claimant to the prize. The article concludes that the regulatory framework governing lotteries does not necessarily preclude the acceptance of contract law arguments in favour of the claimant. Rather, it is the courts’ tendency to analyze the contractual elements of the relationship between the player and the lottery corporation in a haphazard manner that has been the source of frustration for many lottery players across Canada.
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