Gamble leads to law suit

July 11, 2008
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Jeff Frazer and three of his buddies took a chance at beating the odds and winning at a Hoosier Lottery scratch-off game, Cash Blast. The top prize was $250,000. Believing the odds were in their favor, the four purchased at least $40,000 in tickets at $10 a pop, according to the lawsuit originally filed in January 2007. That’s right, they spent more than $40,000 on scratch off tickets because if they hit the big prize –they say seven were left at the time of their purchases – they would make back their money and make a nice profit.

After they bought the tickets, the Hoosier Lottery said there was only one prize left. Apparently, the lottery hadn’t updated the information quick enough, leading Frazer and friends to believe they had better odds of receiving their blast of cash.

Now, Frazer and another Hoosier, Jeff Koehlinger, have filed a suit that’s turned into a class action. They claim the Hoosier Lottery misrepresented the odds of winning, and according to postings on the Hoosier Lottery’s Web site in early 2007, “Despite the unintentional inaccurate reporting of prizes remaining, the overall odds of winning a prize in Game 743 were not compromised and were always 1:3.29.”

Frazer’s not alone in suing the lottery – other states’ lotteries have also been sued. According to news reports, college professor Scott Hoover filed suit for $85 million in Virginia against the Virginia Lottery for selling scratch off tickets after the top prize had been won to reimburse all the tickets sold over the last five years that had no chance of winning the top prize. In May, a New York woman filed suit against the New York State Lottery because the odds for a scratch-off game were misleading, according to reports.

The lottery has far more losers than winners and that’s why it’s a gamble when you plunk down $1 or $10,000 to try to win the big prize. On the other hand, if all or nearly all of the big prizes have been claimed, the odds have changed and the lottery is selling a ticket under false pretenses. People gamble to win big. Few people will pay $10 for a scratch-off game if they know the top prize is gone, which could be motivation for the lotteries to be slow to update the odds or remove the unsold tickets. Do these plaintiffs have a legitimate shot at winning their cases?
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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