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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