Lotto: Stressed-out winners need help

2009-06-06 00:00

There has been a significant increase in the number of big Lotto winners seeking counselling after they find being an instant millionaire can be an emotional nightmare.

Recent incidents involving court battles and squabbles with Lotto winners and their families over the money won in the competition are clear evidence that some instant millionaires are battling to cope with their sudden change in fortune.

More than 80% of winners seek counselling after their big win, some even return after several years for emotional and financial counselling.

The number of “stressed out” winners has increased significantly over the years, says National Operator Gidani.

The heartache, anguish and stress of becoming a Lotto millionaire has been highlighted in media reports of two KwaZulu-Natal winners who have become embroiled in legal battles over their winnings.

In the first case, a Pietermaritzburg woman sought a court interdict against her husband who won R10 million in the Lotto.

Reena Maslamoney was granted an urgent interim order against her husband, Dayalin Maslamoney, and Absa Bank, with whom the money is currently invested. She intends filing for divorce and is concerned that her husband would squander the money, half of which belonged to her.

Judge Isaac Madondo granted the interdict which prevents Maslamoney from dealing with the R10 million.

In another incident, a Durban couple, Richard and Cathy Young, who won R8,3 million in the Lotto draw, ended up suing their son and daughter-in-law.

The couple decided to give five of their children R400 000 each. However, arguments over the money soon led to a court battle, which tore the once close-knit family apart.

Gidani is now offering all those who win R50 000 or more free emotional counselling and financial advisory sessions.

“People always forget that becoming an instant millionaire introduces new challenges like emotional turmoil, sporadic spending patterns and uncomfortable family and personal relationships,” said Gidani spokeswoman Thembi Tulwana.

The counselling is broken into phases where the winners are welcomed, offered financial and emotional counselling and follow up visits over the next seven years.

She said that not every Lotto winner was a “seasoned investor” and that a large number of winners had not been previously exposed to large amounts of money and had no understanding of the implications.

“These winners require professional assistance regarding investments and taxation issues.

“By refusing to take up this offer, winners place themselves in various vulnerable situations like giving away money with no thought of tax implications,” said Tulwana.

She said becoming an instant millionaire should be an exciting experience, not one filled with anguish and stress.

“To sustain this positive experience, it is advisable for players to take advantage of the emotional and financial sessions provided,” said Tulwana.

“People always forget that becoming an instant millionaire introduces new challenges like emotional turmoil, sporadic spending patterns and uncomfortable family and personal relationships.”

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