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Feb 27, 2005 - It appears there is another scratch ticket validation problem - this time it's with a new ticket called Money, Money, Money. It's easier for me to explain the situation by simply posting the message I sent to Gary Grief, Deputy Director of the Texas Lottery on Feb 22, 2005 ...

Gary, I would like for you to tell me what the problem is with scratch ticket Money, Money, Money.

Why can the top prize ($500,000) NOT be redeemed at the claim centers? Please do not tell me it is a "procedure problem" because claim centers have been processing tickets for years and they clearly know the procedures.

I would like to know what the terminal said when the 1st top prize was scanned and on what date did the player submit the ticket?

I am asking you directly because the last time I asked questions about a scratch ticket (Set For Life), I didn't get answers because Bobby didn't know the answers. I would appreciate a response from YOU on this one.

Questions like this should not require an Open Records request.

Just to be clear on why I'm asking you instead ... I asked Bobby when did the TLC first know about the problems with Set For Life - his answer was "during the holidays." After trying to clarify a time frame, Bobby said it "might go back as far as Dec 15." That wasn't the case.

Then I asked Bobby to tell me how much the two tickets validated for versus how much was shown on the face of the ticket - his answer was that he didn't know and he'd find out. I never received answers from him regarding the prize amounts.

It appears he doesn't know the facts for simple questions, therefore, I would appreciate your answering my three questions regarding Money, Money, Money. Thank you.

Because I have NOT received a response, I felt it was important to at least give ya'll a warning that the computers may not be scanning these tickets properly - therefore - check your own tickets and know what you have coming before asking the retailers to tell you. SPREAD THE WORD.

When the TLC does not immediately answer questions of this nature, generally it's a stall for time - they need/want to sell as many tickets as they can and if there's bad press, sales decline. So - you've been warned about Money, Money, Money - a $10 ticket that began selling Jan 5, 2005.

When the TLC tells me what the problem is/was, I will bring you up to date.

Feb 21, 2005 - A couple of things being covered today. In addition to what I'm posting here regarding the Texas Lottery, I'm proudly posting another page of stories, by major media, about scratch tickets. I urge every one of you to read it too.

Now about those re-called "Set For Life" scratch tickets.

As most of you know, we “thought” the Texas Lottery halted sales on the "Set For Life" scratch tickets on Jan 13, 2005. A press release issued Jan 13, 2005 by the TLC said that two tickets had been identified where the prize amount shown on the face of the tickets did not match the validation amount that was in their computer. So they were recalling the tickets.

Sounds honorable ... after all, anyone can make a mistake. But ...

I really wish the Texas Lottery would tell me a few things ... For instance, since there were known "errors" on the tickets, why was the game given a close date of March 14, 2005? Officially this means retailers can continue to sell questionable tickets through March 14, 2005.

I wish they'd also tell me ... WHY did the TLC wait until Jan 13, 2005 to recall the tickets? You see, the first ticket that contained an "error" was actually identified on Dec 1, 2004.

Was it because the "error" financially benefited the TLC? I think I hit the nail on the head ... how 'bout that, I answered my own question!

The first Set For Life ticket containing an "error" was submitted on Dec 1, 2004 by James Leslie. Mr. Leslie, knowing there was a problem with the ticket, first took it to his retailer to have it scanned by the terminal to see what it said the ticket was worth.

The retailers terminal validated the ticket for $20 but the face of the ticket showed it to be worth $1018. Validated means that's how much the retailer was allowed to pay the player.

Mr. Leslie immediately called and emailed the TLC but received no response.

He then drove to a claim center on Dec 1, 2004 in an attempt to collect his money. The claim center couldn't pay him because the terminal said his ticket was only worth $20 and the retailer had already paid him the $20.

In the end, the TLC refused to pay him too - instead - they had Scientific Games (the printer) contact him. It is my understanding that after 3 or 4 weeks and much ado, the player was paid by Scientific Games.

Now - on the other hand - it didn't take the TLC very long to react for itself - they set out immediately to make sure that the state wouldn't lose on this deal. The dilemma begins - should they or should they not pull the tickets they wondered. (As we all know though, they decided to continue to sell the tickets. After all, it's Christmas time and sales are good at this time of year - they probably reasoned.)

By Dec 8, 2004, the TLC had sent an email to staff members advising them to notify management “immediately” if anyone (retailer or player) had a complaint on the "Set for Life" scratch tickets. Why was this message necessary? Why was there special attention given to this issue?

Why did the TLC fail to send me a copy this particular email (Dec 8) with responsive documents to my open records request? After all, I requested a copy of all documents/communications regarding the recall of this game.

Anyway, on Jan 12, 2005, Mr. Jeffery Brown submitted the second ticket containing errors for payment. Like Mr. Leslie, Mr. Brown also knew there was a problem because the prize amount indicating the amount won did not match the prize amounts on the back of the ticket. So he took his ticket to a retailer to have it scanned too.

This time, the retailers terminal said the ticket was worth $10 but the face value of the ticket showed it to be worth $2509. "WHOA," he must have said as he proceeded to go to the nearest claim center!

Fortunately - both players knew exactly how much their tickets were suppose to pay. They also knew the TLC had to honor the tickets face value.

How many players bought tickets like these but didn’t really know how much they should or could have received? How much prize money did the TLC save itself on this deal? How much money were the people cheated out of? WHY did they continue to sell these tickets?

But most important, why did the TLC not tell the retailers about this problem?

Let's look at how many $10 Set For Life scratch tickets were sold each week during its life on the streets. The game officially began Sept. 22, 2004 - however - they really start selling tickets a few days prior to the official start date.

Tickets Sold
(8.1 Million Printed)
9/25/04 279,267
10/02/04 459,537
10/09/04 422,459
10/16/04 366,133
10/23/04 372,444
10/30/04 362,606
11/6/04 364,857
11/13/04 315,210
11/20/04 280,122
11/27/04 252,504
Total sold

of ticket errors
(42.9% sold)
12/4/04 268,429
12/11/04 279,265
12/18/04 292,525
12/25/04 287,865
Two top prize in game.
1st top prize claimed 12/28/04
2nd top prize never claimed.
1/1/05 312,338
1/8/05 284,510
1/15/05 215,317
1/22/05 97,971
1/29/05 32,196
Total sold

of ticket errors
(68.4% sold)
Source G-Tech's Trends Report

On Jan 14, 2005, Michael Anger (a TLC Director) sent an email to TLC Ops Managers, Supervisors and Coordinators telling them to please share the attached press release with their staff who have contact with the public. It said in part, "If they receive calls from players or retailers, they should use language from the attached press release as their talking points. The press release is straight forward and should contain all information that we want to communicate on this matter."

On Jan 14, 2005, Robert Triloni (online products manager) writes to his staff, "The information in the release is what we are communicating regarding this game closure."

The Jan 13, 2005 press release said, “The agency has decided to halt sales of this game to further ensure the continued security and integrity of all Texas Lottery games.”

I ask you, what integrity was shown by the Texas Lottery? As for security, they certainly secured themselves!

Computerized Draws Likely Coming Soon
The next Commission meeting is scheduled for Feb 28, 2005. Item number eight of the agenda says, “Report, possible discussion and/or action on the agency’s drawings.”

By all rights the agenda should better define the meaning of this item but the TLC would rather you not know what is meant! If I’m not mistaken, I believe the Open Meetings Act says that the agenda must be more specific especially if it involves something of great interest to the People.

If they discuss changing Cash 5, 2 Step and Pick3 draws to computerized draws during this meeting, I believe we would be within our right to file grievances with the DA.

I will be in Austin for this meeting so I will be posting the details. By the way, I already know that their plans are to do away with the balls and machines and go with "pseudo random" computerized draws beginning in March. Pseudo random means the draws will not be "random" any longer. They currently use "pseudo random" for the Megaplier draws too.

Read more about lotteries and the madness regarding scratch tickets sales. Finally the national media is investigating this issue. A must for everyone to read. Click here.

Feb 8, 2005 - Edited Feb 9, 2005 - The Mega Millions group has successfully lured California into the game and changes are forthcoming - none of which are good for Texas players.

In a press released issued by the California Lottery, they are promising their players jackpots of $200 to $300 million claiming that's what the players have been demanding - what a line of you know what! The only ones wanting jackpots of that size are the lotteries so they can make more money at the expense of the People.

At any rate, the MM group offered California several game options - one was a matrix change of 5/63 and 1/24 - actual odds would be 168,692,328 million-to-one.

Another option was the possibility of a second prize of $250,000.

They also discussed a matrix change of 5/71 and 1/17 - the odds would be in the neighborhood of 221 million-to-one which is entirely too high. They would add another prize category to bring the "overall odds" down though as they want the "overall odds" to to stay in 17 to one range. As if anyone plays these games to win $2!

One interesting thing though. California has a law that says all lottery prizes must be pari-mutuel prizes. California told their players that the low tier prizes for Mega Millions would be based on pari-mutuel calculations - not set prize amounts like the other states have. The MM jackpot prize would still be guaranteed though.

How they can do this "legally" is beyond me. California guarantees their jackpot prize for their in-state Lotto game too.

Maybe California lawmakers just don't know what the lottery is doing and maybe their jackpot winners don't know about that law either!

As I obtain more details, I will let you know as these changes effect all players in all states. Somehow, our voices must be heard.

Jan 15, 2005 - About those Set For Life scratch tickets. Gee I really can't believe the messages I've received pertaining to the TLC pulling this ticket - Yes, I did receive a press release two days ago so I did know that they were pulling the ticket - I didn't think about posting anything about it though but I see now that I should have. Sorry.

While the retailers aren't suppose to be selling this ticket, you might still find some of these tickets because not all retailers check their messages from G-Tech via the lottery terminal.

The ticket was pulled because apparently someone found a ticket that was a "winning ticket" but the terminal said it wasn't. Upon inspection, they saw that it was a winner so they had to pay on it (honor it) even though their records showed it wasn't a winning ticket. The TLC is probably worried that there may be some high tier prizes out there that they don't know about so they are pulling the tickets to be safe. After all, they don't want to pay out more than they have to and they like to control the circulation.

I don't know that I'd recommend that you buy these tickets should you find them because should you find a high tier winner, the TLC could/would deny your claim. You see, the retailers keep daily records of the ticket numbers and they know when the ticket was sold. So, if you bought the ticket today, the TLC could easily detect that they ticket was bought AFTER they pulled the ticket. You'd probably end up getting another losing ticket for the money you spent IF you got your money back at all.

I've already told a couple of retailers who were selling the tickets to check his mail - which they did - then I watched them pull the tickets. This is what I'd advise ya'll to do too. Tell your retailer to check his mail via the terminal. There's no sense in upsetting some clueless player that should buy one of these big winners only to be let down because the ticket had been pulled prior to his purchasing it so he wouldn't get his money.

More later. here to read more

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