The Invisible Web

Your Trip Into the Chapel Perilous

‘Zero’ chance lottery tickets stun some players

Posted by invizweb on July 8, 2008

Thanks to Mind Virus @ Disinfo

Jason Carroll and Susan Chun wrote for CNN American Morning:

NEW YORK (CNN)When Scott Hoover bought a $5 scratch-off ticket in Virginia called “Beginner’s Luck” last summer, he carefully studied the odds. Even though he figured his chances of winning were a long shot, he felt the odds were reasonable.

Hoover, a business professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, wasn’t surprised when his tickets didn’t bring him the $75,000 grand prize, but he was shocked to learn the top prize had been awarded before he bought the ticket.

“I felt duped into buying these things,” Hoover said.

He discovered the Virginia State Lottery was continuing to sell tickets for games in which the top prizes were no longer available. Public records showed that someone had already won the top prize one month before Hoover played. He is now suing the state of Virginia for breach of contract. Video Is this a scratch-off scandal? »

“It’s one thing to say it’s a long shot to win the $75,000, but it’s another thing to say you have no shot to win it,” said John Fishwick, Hoover’s attorney.

Through a request filed under the Freedom of Information Act, Fishwick’s firm was able to obtain records that showed the Virginia State Lottery sold $85 million in tickets for which no top prize was available. Fishwick says the state should pay $85 million in damages.

Paula Otto, executive director of the Virginia State Lottery, said the state’s games are fair and the top prize money is actually a small percentage of the money given out to lottery players. Most of the players win through the second, third or fourth-place prizes, she said. Otto also said it’s no longer possible in the state of Virginia to purchase tickets with no top prizes available.

“We absolutely have always been very open and honest with our players about the way our scratch tickets are distributed,” Otto said. “Yes, there were times when there was a scratch game out there that might’ve said “zero” in terms of the number of top prizes, but our players knew that.”

Otto would not comment on the lawsuit, but said she stands by the integrity of the games in Virginia and looks forward to vigorously defending them.

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