Image the scene: a young family man enduring tough times spends part of his New Year's Eve scratching off the numbers on an Ontario Lottery scratch card to see if benevolent fortune has smiled upon him. One card reveals a win of $75 000, but there's more to come and the excited punter finally has what appears to be a total win of $135 000 - it's a major boon to tight finances for the 27-year-old steelworker, his wife and their infant son.

And that's where the feel-good element of this story ends.

Steel worker Thomas Noftall can't wait to get in and claim the big win on his Fruit Smash scratchcards, but when he does his dreams are quickly reduced to ashes. The Ontario Lottery won't pay up a cent.

The reason? The OLG claims that the $3 tickets were misprinted, and under the organisation's strict rules, that means they're void!

Contrite but adamant OLG spokesman Don Pister explained to reporters that some 1 100 of the scratchers were printed with misaligned symbols....and the provincial gambling corporation wasn't aware of the error until winners started calling in. He apologised for the problem, characterising it as "very rare" and asking anyone who may have purchased one of the accidental winning cards to contact the corporation immediately.

But he added that the rules on this kind of glitch are very clear and uncompromising, laid out to protect the system. No payout.

The corporation has pulled the scratchards from retail outlets and online sales, but Noftall is understandably far from satisfied, and not a little confused by conflicting statements he claims were made to him by various OLG officials. Some told him he could be paid out, others that he has no chance. Now he is considering a legal action.

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