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. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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