A regular participant in the UK National Lottery 'Hot Picks,' the woman hated to miss a weekly flutter on the lottery, and had an Internet facility installed in her Spanish holiday home earlier this year in order to pursue her lottery passion, using the Camelot online channel. And it all seemed to be working well....until she won GBP 7 000 whilst on holiday and tried to claim it.
She contacted the Interactive Customer Care Unit in order to claim her winnings, where she was asked to confirm a number of personal details. The operative said that they would call her back to save her the cost of the call. It was when she explained that she was in Spain at the time of the wager that the trouble started.
Long story short, after much delay and repeated exchanges, Camelot, in the form of Head of Player Services, Rebecca Renshaw, told the woman she would not be paid out, explaining that she was in breach of Spanish law for entering the lottery online whilst visiting that country. This meant that it would be unlawful for Camelot, as the operator of the National Lottery, to make any payment. Ms Renshaw added that the decision to reject the claim would not be revised.
Frustrated and angry, the woman scoured the 120 pages of regulations pertaining to the National Lottery, in a bid to find anything that suggested that participants would not be eligible to obtain their winnings if entering online from Spain.
Under a section head 'Can I play online from overseas?' it explained that when located outside of the UK participants will be subject to the laws of the country that they are in, which in some cases forbid involvement in interactive games. In another section headed 'US/ other jurisdictions,' it was suggested that playing the games whilst located within the US and any other jurisdiction in which it is unlawful to play the games online is strictly prohibited and that no prize would be released to anyone who was in breach of these regulations.
Santiago Asensi, a Partner of the legal firm Asensi Abogados, advised that a draft of a bill pertaining to online gaming regulation was anticipated soon in order to harmonise rules throughout the European Union trading bloc. However, until this occurred Spain is within its rights to take a proactive approach and forbid interactive gaming within the country unless otherwise decreed by autonomous regions.
All of which is too late to help the unfortunate lottery winner.
The tale is a cautionary one for Brits overseas who use the Internet to gamble on the UK National Lottery, and the deprived woman warns that this disqualification pitfall should be more clearly flagged by lottery officials. She speculated that there must be hundreds of expats living in Spain or spending certain periods of the year on holiday in the country like herself, who continue to take a punt on the lottery thanks to the wonders of the Internet, quite oblivious to the fact that they will not be able to benefit if they enjoy good fortune.
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