Story As It Appeared in the
San Antonio Express News
A lawsuit filed in Corpus Christi says
Texas Lottery Scratch games perpetrate "fraud"
Posted: Friday, June 11, 2004
Read the first San Antonio Express News
story that ran June 9, 2004, click here.
Ken Rodriguez: In 22 scratch-off games, gamblers are only playing for fun
San Antonio Express-News
The Texas Lottery Commission calls its 83 scratch-off games "fun." A lawsuit filed in Corpus Christi says the games perpetrate "fraud."
A reasonable person could believe the Texas Lottery Commission if you redefine "fun" to mean "suckered and ticked off."
People don't know that much of the cash they're scratching for already has been claimed.
One game, "Casino Action," offers a top prize of $1 million. That prize has been claimed, but tickets for the game are still being sold.
Another game, "$500,000 Payday," offers a top prize of, you guessed it, half a million dollars. That prize has been claimed, but tickets for the game are still being sold.
Casino Action and $500,000 Payday aren't anomalies. Tickets are being sold for 22 scratch-off games whose top prizes have been claimed.
The others are: $100,000 Cash Vault, $50,000 Cash Bonanza, 3 Card Cash, ($2) Bingo, ($5) Bingo, Break The Bank, Club Casino, Crown Jewels, Diamond Mine, Doubler Bingo, Holiday Bonus, Hot Dice, Hot Slots, Luck Of The Draw, Magnificent 7s, Mega Bucks, Midas Touch, Roll For Riches, Top Tens, and Weekly Grand.
People are paying up to $20 per ticket, hoping to win more than $2.7 million in top prizes that no longer exist.
Bet you can hardly wait to join the fun. Five plaintiffs in Nueces County had so much fun they decided to sue.
They are suing GTECH, the company that designs and runs the Texas Lottery, and Scientific Games, the company that prints the scratch-off cards, alleging "fraud" and "theft."
The plaintiffs are naming the Texas Lottery Commission, which is immune from lawsuits, as a "co-conspirator." GTECH and Scientific Games won't comment.
"It makes sense that you tell people what they can win before you take their money," says Bill Edwards, a Corpus Christi lawyer who filed the suit. "If you hide it, you are running a crooked numbers game."
The Texas Lottery Commission posts a disclaimer on the back of all tickets: "A Scratch Off game may continue to be sold even when all the top prizes have been claimed."
The words appear in tiny print. To read the warning, you first have to buy a ticket.
Express-News reporter John MacCormack pointed out the disclaimer to a woman after she bought a ticket.
"It's not fair," the woman said. "It's a come-on. I'm buying tickets. I'm thinking I'm going to hit it, but it's already gone."
She was right. The top $100,000 prize for the Club Casino ticket she bought already had been claimed. One $10,000 prize and one $5,000 prize remain.
The Texas Lottery Commission will not close the Club Casino game until July 31.
Why? Spokesman Bobby Heith says the Texas Lottery Commission closes games based on sales and not because top prizes are claimed.
Heith points out that the Texas Lottery Commission posts the number of winning tickets remaining for each game on its Web site, texaslottery.org.
Bill Edwards points out that many low-income people who buy tickets don't have access to Web sites.
I'd like to point out that the Texas Lottery Commission and the Attorney General's Office refuse to comment on the lawsuit. That's courageous.
A spokesman in the Attorney General's Office says the lottery commission is not in the suit. Wrong. The lottery commission is named as a co-conspirator.
If the Texas Lottery Commission wanted to avoid the appearance of running a questionable game, it could at least post the number of winning prizes remaining where scratch-off tickets are sold.
But then this is the same commission that says legalizing video lottery terminals would generate $1.6 billion after two years while the state comptroller's office estimates the revenue at $548 million.
And this is the same lottery commission whose executive director was accused of giving vague and misleading answers last week to lawmakers regarding a $250,000 contract with a Las Vegas law firm.
So when you hear the commission call games with no top prizes available "fun," here's the truth: It's a lie.
Special Note From
Many of you have been asking if we couldn't file a class action lawsuit against the TLC and it's employees. Well, I'm about ready to seriously check into this as the District Attorney of Travis County has just recently notified me that the DA has no jurisdiction in the matter of not considering comment for rule changes. We did however discuss another avenue to which the DA may have jurisdiction and I will submit that complaint in coming days. In the meantime, for those of you who wish to participate in a class action lawsuit should I find that avenue to be advantageous to us, then send me an email with your name and address and I'll notify you when and if the time comes. Here is an email link
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