Some States Continue To Sell Lottery Tickets Long After The Top Prize Has Already Been Awarded

Would you buy that “Million dollar” lottery ticket if you knew that someone had already claimed the million bucks? No? Well, if you buy lottery tickets in Virginia you may have been doing just that, according to a new lawsuit.

Scott Hoover, a business professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, was “shocked” to learn that the $5 scratch-off ticket he bought had no chance of being a big winner. The top prize of $75,000 had already been awarded before he even bought the ticket. Now CNN says he’s suing Virginia for breach of contract.

“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,” John Fishwick, Hoover’s attorney, told CNN.

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.

USAToday says that about half of the 42 states that sell scratch-off tickets continue to sell them after the top prizes have been claimed. Lottery officials say it’s fair because there are still lesser prizes that have not been claimed, and because people can use the internet to check if top prizes have been claimed.

‘Zero’ chance lottery tickets stun some players [CNN]
(Photo: blue_j )

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  1. zigziggityzoo says:

    To me, this practice seems legitimate, even if it is unfair. Most states (like mine, MI) posts which prizes have been claimed and which haven’t. Generally, the prizes are funded via the tickets purchased.

    If, say, all the prizes were the first 20 tickets sold, then they’re underfunded, and lottery isn’t profitable.

  2. Womblebug says:

    I have a hard time with this. Rational people would understand that out of a run of, say, 10,000 tickets, at some point the largest prizes would be awarded. What happens if the top prize is awarded in the first 100 tickets sold? Should the state then pull all the remaining tickets? What if someone wins the top prize but doesn’t redeem it for a week? Should the state offer refunds?

    If -all- prizes are gone, maybe they should pull the tickets. But scratch offs are not like MegaMillions, where they don’t sell tickets after the drawing.

    Of course, rationality would prevent people from buying the tickets at all, with the odds of winning. So maybe this whole argument is moot. =P

  3. because people can use the internet to check if top prizes have been claimed.

    I suspect that won’t be good enough…they’ll probably have to print the results in the newspaper or on broadcast TV to constitute “public notice.” Just a guess.

  4. New Hampshire posts if the top prizes have been claimed. At the very least, you can ask the person selling you the ticket. They get a fax (daily or weekly, I’m not sure) which tells the status of current lottery games.

  5. xmarkd400x says:

    The only thing this lawsuit will do is force more verbiage upon the poor asterisk.

    *At time of playing, top prize may have already been claimed. Please check http://www.VAlotto.com to verify whether or not the top prize has been claimed.

    P.S. Would one then be able to see which tickets haven’t had their big winners yet and increase their odds of winning a big prize?

  6. bravo369 says:

    I don’t see what the big deal is. There’s different levels of prizes. it says to win “up to $1million” so if the $1million was already won, and then you buy a ticket 2 weeks later and win $50,000 then isn’t that still in the “UP TO” part?

  7. EJXD2 says:

    I’m so glad my state allows the lottery and its $20 scratch off tickets, but I can’t play poker at a racetrack.

  8. @zigziggityzoo: In NJ, they send out a sheet to all the retailers saying what prizes are available and how long until the tickets expire or the game is over. We always posted them when I sold tickets so the public could see.

  9. sleze69 says:

    @bravo369: t says to win “up to $1million” so if the $1million was already won, and then you buy a ticket 2 weeks later and win $50,000 then isn’t that still in the “UP TO” part?

    No. People don’t play to get the boob prizes. They play for the big money. Once the main prize has been awarded, they need to change the advertising AT THE POINT OF SALE from “Up to $1 million” to “Up to $500!!”. Suddenly that $5 ticket doesn’t look so good.

  10. bobbleheadr says:

    @sleze69: Except the wording is ON the ticket.

    Sorry, I dont play the scratch offs for the big prize. Ill occasionally drop a couple buck on one, hoping to win SOMETHING, but I really couldnt care less if the top prize is gone.

    This guy just is looking for some free pub and a nice payday.

  11. zigziggityzoo says:

    @sleze69: IDK, I was pretty happy to win $150 on my $1 ticket once. Granted, it would have been much nicer to get millions of dollars or what-have-you, but I was happy.

  12. AnderBobo says:

    I don’t see the validity in this claim. Ok, so yes the unavailable “top prize” is $75,000 but there are many other prizes that can be won by purchasing the ticket, all in excess of the $5.00 purchase price.

    If the state is making the information of which cash prizes have already been claimed than the consumer should maybe do a quick internet search before handing over five bucks for what is most likely a worthless piece of paper regardless of how many prizes have been claimed.

  13. huadpe says:

    @bravo369: See, that’s a problem. “You can win up to $1 million” becomes false once the million dollar ticket is issued. The true statement is “You can win up to (largest prize remaining).” Any claim of a larger number is a lie, since you cannot win that number or any in a largeish set below it.

    As to the people commenting on the lottery losing money on early wins, so what? They have the law of large numbers. If the expected value on a $1 ticket is $.75, then at very minimum more than half of runs will be profitable. The house doesn’t always win every game…just most of them. They can always just print another set of tickets with one new winner in it, so that the chance of winning still exists.

  14. Karmakin says:

    Noooooo!

    Not you guys as well who’ve been suckered into this!!

    This is the nature of any sort of fixed printing lottery/sweepstakes/giveaway. Everybody when playing these things should be of the understanding that the winning ticket might already be sold. What you’re purchasing is a % chance to win over the total original print-run, NOT what’s left.

  15. rewinditback says:

    Pretty soon ” instant win ” tickets will be scratch off via some website and by moving the ” coin ” back and forth with your mouse. At least there’s no messy foil flakes that way….

    Wait a second, im on to something. IDEA COPYRIGHT REWINDITBACK. You saw it here first, folks.

  16. Jabberkaty says:

    Um, not to be harsh, but I think that the idea that the top prize may have already been claimed is part of the whole “lottery” deal. When you buy a ticket, there’s a chance the guy in front of you got it, or the lady last week. If they always put the big prize as the last ticket there would be no point cause the randomness is gone.

    Anyone who buys a ticket thinking that the government hasn’t totally calculated how much money they’re going to make on any given roll of scratch tickets is fooling themselves. If you don’t like it, don’t buy a ticket.

    Gah!

  17. Jacquilynne says:

    Not that I’m a huge buyer of scratch tickets (usually at Christmas, when we put them all in each others stockings and maybe one or two others throughout the year), but doesn’t everybody already know how they work?

    Is ‘too stupid to understand that the prizes are pre-determined’ part of the definition of the class for this lawsuit? (I actually can’t tell if this is a class action suit, but it seems like it would have to be.)

  18. Concerned_Citizen says:

    Pure genius. If your state does the same thing, you should call a lawyer before someone else beats you to the bounty.

  19. kepler11 says:

    The problem is that people want the game to be about luck, but also not about luck.

    A rational person would accept that each ticket has an equal chance of winning, and it doesn’t matter in what order they’re played (in the overall scheme, not to the individual person). And you pay your money and take the chance. But of course, people want it both ways — if they know the game is finished already, they don’t want to take the chance.

    But if people were allowed to know when prizes have already been won, how would the lottery make money? If the prize were awarded in the first ticket sold, they would have to pay out, with no revenue from the rest of the tickets to pay for that prize. They would have to stop offering these games that people can buy at any time, and keep only the lottery where everyone plays at the same time.

  20. pandroid says:

    I know they do this in Texas, and I also know they post what prizes are left on their website. I don’t have a problem with the way they run it, but the lawsuit guy has a point – that is false advertising. They should just change the wording on the tickets and be done with it.

  21. purplesun says:

    @pandroid: True. Also, in Texas, it says this all over the places where you purchase a scratch off:

    NOTICE: Game closing procedures will begin when all top prizes have been claimed. A scratch-off game may be sold even after all top prizes have been claimed. For more current information on prizes claimed in a scratch-off game, call 1-800-37-LOTTO.

    So, basically, they’ll pull the game when all the top prizes are taken, but they’re not liable if you happen to buy a ticket before they finish pulling them.

  22. I’m more concerned with how our involuntary taxes are run–not the voluntary taxes like the lottery.

    This year, everyone in America won $600-$1,200…OR MORE! So I’ll just quit while I’m ahead.

  23. Griff431 says:

    The state needs to make the money back so they can actually pay the winners. If the top prize was one of the first sold, then they would go broke very quickly.

    On the other hand, the alternative would be to RIG the tickets to make sure the winner was one of the last to be sold. In my opinion, as long as there are winning tickets available, they should still be sold.

    As they point out, you CAN check to see if the winner has been sold before playing.

    Speaking of which, who’s going to be getting this $85 million?

  24. scoobydoo says:

    I’m surprised it has taken this long for someone to finally figure this out. Instant tickets have been around for years, and nobody ever came to the same conclusion as this guy?

  25. chrisjames says:

    “Fishwick says the state should pay $85 million in damages.”

    Pay $85 million in damages to whom? Scott Hoover? Class action lawyers? Unobtainium man?

    I mean, it’s a sound lawsuit, but really the guy should just be suing (or asking) for his $5.00 back, or organizing a class action lawsuit to punish the state for taking money under false pretenses.

  26. kepler11 says:

    what false pretenses?

    if they stop selling the tickets when all the prizes are won, then people do genuinely have a chance to win at any time they buy one.

    But I would say that even if they don’t pull the tickets, they are not deceiving the public if they say that every ticket has an equal chance of winning.

  27. WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

    Ohio ran in to this complaint, so now any time they have a large prize on an instant ticket, they also have another winning category.

    When you scratch off your ticket, you may win “TPD” which stands for top prize drawing. They put all the TPD tickets in a bucket and draw one winner. That way the top prize is avalailable for the life of the ticket.

  28. Snarkysnake says:

    Since I assume that most people reading this story are lottery players,here are a couple of things on my mind:

    1) Get the hell out of my way when I am making a 10:30 P.M. beer run. I could give a shit about your stupid “system” that you are trying to explain to the (equally stupid),slack jawed convenience store clerk. Here are some odds that you need to know- The odds are damn near zero that you will ever win anything. The odds that my beer will make women prettier is quite high.

    2)You are NOT “supporting education”. You are supporting a piss poor deal that keeps a lot of state employees happily employed.Most of the money raised by the lottery in my state (Georgia) goes to scholarships for middle class students that could afford their own tuition IF the cost wasn’t skyrocketing BECAUSE every student has more money to spend.

    3)The money raised by the lottery is just subtracted from state budgets by oily,cynical politicians anyway.You are giving these bastards more money to play with.

    There ,I feel much better.

  29. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    Lottery = Tax on the Stupid.

  30. Edge231 says:

    I side with the consumers.

    Lotteries are rip-offs that prey mostly on the poor. By states continuing to sell lottery tickets, after the main price has already ween awarded that are indeed simply taking advantage of people.

    As far as telling people, to check the website to see if someone has already won…are the gov’t officials joking?
    The people that play lotteries are mostly poor.

    Sorry, but posting a notice on the website or the claim lotteries are “up to $X” does not cut it. The state needs to stop selling the tickets are sent out notices to all merchants, who can place the notice in-store when the main price has been won.

  31. cmdrsass says:

    The house always wins

  32. Triborough says:

    If you are dumb enough to buy scratch-off lottery tickets you aren’t smart enough to grasp the concept that there are prizes other than the top one.

    When it comes to lotteries just buy a MegaMillions/Powerball ticket.
    I just buy two and only when the jackpot is over $100 million. Of course, I trade one vice for another forgoing a cupcake and since the cupcake is more than $2.00 the vice replacement costs less along with having fewer calories.

    Those who basically throw their money away on scratch-off lottery tickets are probably either addicted or just not smart enough to realize that the outlay to potential prize ratio isn’t as good as the multi-state lotto games.

  33. mac-phisto says:

    ct posts all their scartch off info here –> [www.ctlottery.org] & i think it’s perfectly fine that they continue to sell tickets after the grand prize(s) is/are awarded. generally, the state will “twilight” games where the top prize is gone, but i believe that gives them an additional year to sell tickets & 2 years for people to collect.

    i’m not a big scratch-off fan, but i know a few people who use the site & game accordingly. seems like it works to me.

  34. darksunfox says:

    If there are a definite number of tickets and a definite number of prizes for the tickets, and all prizes are randomly distributed, then what’s the issue? You’re playing for the prizes and you have just as legitimate of a shot as anyone else. The ticket that you bought had the exact same chance of winning as every other ticket sold. It’s the lottery. Gambling always sucks for the consumer and always treats the house well. If gambling worked, it’d be called investing.

  35. satoru says:

    @xmarkd400x: Most lottery tickets already have this kind of disclaimer.

  36. bobbleheadr says:

    @Triborough: Can I refer you to the new commenter code?

    Guess what, lots of people play scratch offs without being morons. Sometimes the idea of a low risk gambling game is appealing to people. Some people like to give them as throwaway gift/prizes. Some people just like the instant gratification.

    I know when I had people working for me that 20 dollars in instant tickets was always a popular contest prize (compared to a similar value gift card).

    Also, since they odds of winning SOMETHING is greater on those games doesnt that make you a moron for playing Powerball instead (along with being an asshole).

  37. satoru says:

    This ‘concern’ seems to pop up every once and awhile as people ‘discover’ this new found problem with lotteries. Most lottery tickets if you read the back, already have this kind of disclaimer. So the lawsuit is pretty much moot.

    You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t feel sorry for the morons buying this stuff and expecting to win. The odds of winning are essentially zero anyways, so what’s the difference if it’s actually zero. :P

  38. chrisjames says:

    @kepler11: But every ticket does not have an equal chance of winning.

    The academic issue: tickets depreciate in value as prizes are won, with larger depreciations for larger prizes. The depreciation occurs before the time of purchase, but they are sold at the same price. The real issue: the tickets are heavily advertised as being able to win up to $X, and some purchasers, maybe all, are hoping to win that prize. If the large prize has been won, the statement that you can win up to $X is no longer true. The legal issue: people buy tickets with the idea that they are capable of winning the big prize. Because that prize is no longer available, they are no longer getting what they paid for: the opportunity promised on the tickets.

  39. sir_eccles says:

    Just suppose he wins his $85m, where do you suppose the stat is going to find that money? There are two options:

    1) Higher state taxes
    2) A new lottery scratch card

  40. Thaddeus says:

    I’m with the lotto on this one. As was previously stated by some of the commenter’s, many states, like Ohio for example, post the remaining prizes:

    [www.ohiolottery.com]

    I know there is that cry of “it’s not fair”. Well, the universe is arbitrary and unfair. Thats life.

    @Edge231: I agree that the lottery is a rip-off and aimed at the poor. While I don’t think they should stop selling games where the top prize has been awarded, the notice thing isn’t a bad idea.

  41. mac-phisto says:

    @Triborough: funny how you call others stupid when you have zero understanding of odds. multi-state lottos are the worst possible gamble a person can make – odds on powerball are 1 in 146,107,962, whereas odds of winning the jackpot on this game –> [www.ctlottery.org] are 1 in 1,357,143. odds of winning the lowest prize ($3) in powerball are 1 in 69 whereas odds of the lowest prize (even win – $10 on $10 ticket) in the game i referenced are about 1 in 9.

    & also – multi-state lottos allow multiple winners on the same jackpot whereas scratch-offs have guaranteed payouts for jackpot winners. how pissed would you be if you had to split your $100 million with 10 other people (minus taxes)?

    now they’re both fools’ bets, but who’s really the bigger fool?

    as i already stated, i’m not a scratch-off player (i prefer the dice, where i actually have a chance), but claiming that one bet is stupid & another is smart – well that’s just dumb.

  42. JoeVet says:

    At the point of sale they are claiming a top prize of $????. It is fraud if that prize is unavailable at the time of sale

  43. zibby says:

    Common sense would seem to indicate that if there’s one grand prize in a contest of this nature, somebody may have won it before you decided to buy your ticket. But since we’re talking about people who buy scratch off tickets here…

    I used to work in a convenince store as a teenager and we’d have people buy $100 worth of these things and be amazed that they didn’t turn a profit. Sometimes twice in a week.

  44. kepler11 says:

    @chrisjames:

    No, every ticket does have an equal probability of winning, if the game is played all at once. But in this game you are now revealing the tickets one by one instead of all at once as in a lottery, and that is the problem that makes the definition more complicated. Until someone scratches off the winning ticket, your ticket has just as much potential.

    What if someone had a winning ticket, but chose not to claim the prize until the deadline? That would be the same effect, and if you had knowledge of that, would you have grounds to sue?

    I guess in practice, the lottery just needs to come up with a way to phrase it so that you have a potential to win some prize, just not the prizes that have already been won. That ought to be enough for people who believe in the chance to win these things anyway.

  45. katurian says:

    In New York they take back lottery tickets where the top prizes have been claimed:

    “Games [that] no longer have top prizes available and
    are in the process of being collected from retailers.”

  46. Shadowfire says:

    In NH, once the majority of the top prizes have been claimed, a lotto agent will stop buy and collect the rest of our tickets. However, that’s only when the top prize, and most of the other high prizes, have been won.

  47. TPK says:

    @Jaysyn:

    I’ve always heard a slightly different, but perhaps more accurate version…

    “Lotteries are a tax on people who can’t do math…”

    So to the plaintiff in this case… congratulations, it appears that you have suddenly developed some rudimentary math skills. So stop playing the lottery and get on with life. There is no form of gambling that is inherently fair… it just appears to be fair. That’s kind of the point. And as noted earlier, the actual difference in odds before and after the top prize has been redeemed is remarkably similar!

  48. chrisjames says:

    @kepler11: That’s exactly what I’m saying. It’s all equal until the prizes are claimed. Tickets have equal chances at the start, but those chances diminish over time. The fact that one person holds a winning ticket without claiming is moot. That’s no different than claiming that it’s unfair only one location sells the winning ticket.

    The problem is that the prize is claimed, but the tickets that tout a prize is available are still being sold. The chances to win a prize have changed from those advertised. It would be silly to expect that those 17 million or so purchasers would have won anything even if the grand prize was still up for grabs, but the argument is that they were told they had a chance when they didn’t, i.e. not getting what they paid for.

    Either a notice should be made to ticket sellers, or the information should be readily available at an obvious location. Neither are easy solutions and, actually, the latter is the case here (it’s made known at a website). The lawsuit probably won’t get very far–nor should it, who could rightfully get the money–but it’s still reasonable to expect to get what you are paying for.

  49. MercuryPDX says:

    Washington State at least posts how many winners are left on their website: [www.walottery.com]

    Of course you have to love their “Odds Explanation”: [www.walottery.com]

    If the “average chance of winning a prize” is 1:5, this does not mean that there’s an automatic winner within every five consecutive tickets

    What?!?!?!

  50. MercuryPDX says:

    Also, their policy to to keep all tickets out there for the full 180 days they run, even if the top prize is won 10 days out.

  51. Marshfield says:

    If anyone has ever done “pull tabs” — they’re like scratch tickets but you get them from a machine at the bar (or restaurant) and open them on the spot. Prizes are usually small, from $1.00 to $500.00. There are a known number of winners for each prize, and as they are won, the bartender marks off that prize on a sheet posted above the machine. You know just how “hot” a particular machine is, can see all the remaining tabs, etc.

    All they are asking for is the same level of information when buying a scratch ticket. Seems reasonable to me.

  52. MercuryPDX says:

    @bobbleheadr: A friend of mine mixed some of these in with regular tickets for the stocking stuffers. I almost ruined the gag when I said “Where did you get these? There’s no state seal on them.” before her sister-in-law “won” $25,000 and ran around the house screaming her head off. Good Timesâ„¢.

  53. poetry1mind says:

    I just wanted to let everyone know that this is my first post and I really love the consumerist. Initially, I had my words ready to totally agree with the article because I used to buy alot of lottery tickets and felt somewhat misled. However, after reading everyones post, I can now say that I disagree with the claim. I also think I am just scared of the commentors. You guys come up with the best comments!

  54. Greeper says:

    So before I had no chance of winning, and now I REALLY have no chane winning? WTF???!! I’m spending my dollar on BINGO instead!

  55. Charybdis says:

    I’m going to sue my lottery commission because the winning ticket was sent to Houston instead of my local convenience store. This gave me no chance to win the big prize (since I don’t travel to Houston), and therefore is false advertising on their part.

  56. Tiber says:

    I can see the complaint, but that’s kind of the reality of the game. It’s not intentionally deceptive, it’s just unfair for everyone to stand a chance to win by nature. About the only way to avoid it is to go the Ohio route WiglyWorm first mentioned, but you lose the “instant gratification” of winning the top prize simply by scratching the ticket.

    If you want deceptive, look to slot machines. They are programmed so that the odds of winning are based on how much net revenue it has made. So you have virtually no chance of winning if the machine has been generous recently.

  57. Geekybiker says:

    Seems like the fair way would just be a continuously running game where the scratch off tickets are randomly generated just like a slot machine. There could be multiple large winners in a row, but the possibility that a large winner would always exist. You’d lose the guaranteed schedule of prizes though and have to settle for a guaranteed payout rate.

  58. mariospants says:

    So if the orginal complainant isn’t satisfied with a simple notification that the grand prize has already been won for a particular prize (already available on web sites and likely if he asks the vendor), he is essentially asking for is a refund if he doesn’t win the lottery.

    That’s ass-hatness to a high degree. Just because someone bought the winning ticket on the first day or last day the cards are available has no bearing whatsoever on his chances of winning. He just wants a heads-up that he won’t win. That’s not the point of a game of chance. Hell, I wish my mutual funds had that kind of insider information.

  59. Trai_Dep says:

    @Triborough: I’m quietly floored that someone who plays Lotto is calling the ticket-players stoopid.

    Isn’t all of this like arguing whether it stings more being hit by lightning when standing in a puddle or on dry land? Either way, the odds are too astronomical to factor into one’s daily life…

  60. InThrees says:

    If the ticket is still marketed at the point of sale as having a chance at the big prize when it does not, it is clearly not what you think you’re buying.

  61. Noris159 says:

    Buisness professor buys scratch-off lottery ticket? Huh? I guess we all have our vices, or he did it explicitly to be able to sue.

  62. ThomFabian says:

    @MercuryPDX:
    “If the “average chance of winning a prize” is 1:5, this does not mean that there’s an automatic winner within every five consecutive tickets”

    Makes sense to me. The odds of flipping a heads on a coin is (virtually) 50%. However, flip the coin twice in a row and there is no guarantee you will get a heads and then a tails (or a tails and then a head). All they are saying is that in any 5 consecutive cards there may or may not be a prize, which means that in any 5 consecutive cards there may be more than 1 prize by definition.

  63. eelmonger says:

    I used to work at a customer service counter dispensing these tickets and I learned a few things:
    - All Florida tickets say something like “All prizes, including the top prize are subject to availability at time of ticket purchase.” They also list the odds of winning per ticket, last time I checked it was 1:3. Everything is pretty transparent in this respect.
    - There are lots of people who treat playing the scratch offs like a night at the casino. They drop ~$100 keep playing with any winnings they get, sometimes for hours. They don’t need to win the top prize to be happy, just come out a little ahead (or just not lose everything).

    My local news station did a story on this a few weeks back, and everyone they interviewed was aware that someone may have already won the top and were perfectly fine with it as long as some prizes were still available.

  64. algormortis says:

    The $5 tickets fall off in sales rapidly in WA once the top prize has been won.

    Thing is there’s usually some decent smaller prizes, and let’s face it, i know i’m tossing $5 when i play such a game. Winning $25 is like finding $25. If i can’t afford the 5 bucks, top prize or none, i’m not playing. You can’t win if you don’t play, but it hedges against losing by not playing too!

  65. hoppychris says:

    Scratch-off tickets have long been viewed by many as a tax on people who are bad at math. This apparently continues for people who are very concerned about scratch-off tickets, as well. Each ticket-game consists of a few elements: T, the number of tickets, C, the cost of a ticket, P, the total dollar amount of prizes available, and S, money for the state. The general formula for these games is, (T*C)-P=S, the number of tickets times the price of a ticket minus the prizes is how much money the state gets. Two examples:
    The current system: Super Win $50 tickets
    In this game, there are 150 $1 tickets available, the grand prize is $50 and there are 25 $2 prizes. Let’s plug that into my formula:
    (150*$1)-($50+$50)=$150-$100=$50
    Total ticket sales are $150, total prizes are $100, so the state gets $50.

    The stop-when-the-big-prize-is-gone system: Stupid Win $50 tickets. In this game, tickets will stop being sold after someone wins the $50 prize. Otherwise the game is the same as above. If the last ticket sold is the $50 winner, then the math is the same as above, but if the first ticket is the $50 winner, then suddenly the state has taken in one dollar, but put out $50, for a loss of $49 dollars. In this game, if the winning ticket is any of the first 50 tickets sold then the state loses money, and that is not even counting the $2 winning tickets. Generally, it would be impossible to run scratch off tickets this way, as state lottery commissions are not in the business of gambling when it comes to allowing others to.

  66. Javert says:

    @Jaysyn: Amen. Though if they do not have a waiver on the ticket specifically pointing out that you may win available prizes there is a point…there is also a point in filing a law suit against the makers of the Never Ending Story…

  67. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Texas retailers are supposed to print out and display a daily “Scratch-Off Prizes Claimed” flyer or do it on demand.

    Texas also pulls games when all the top prizes are won but I’m not sure on their definition or cut-off for “top prizes”.

    This hasn’t stopped my local Albertsons from having nothing but month old expired scratch-offs in its lottery ticket vending machine. Perhaps in Scott Hoover’s case it was the retailer not following through on procedures.

    If lotteries did stop games after THE top prize (not all top prizes) was won then lottery corporations would have to respond with worse odds & lower prize amounts on future games.

  68. j4yx0r says:

    @Tiber: What you say about slot machines “self adjusting” is simply not true (in America, at least, but probably elsewhere). It IS true that they are ‘weighted’ to pay out a particular percentage but that percentage is static. It is illegal (and the law is strictly enforced) to adjust this percentage ‘on the fly.’

    These percentages are periodically evaluated by those who run the games and changes can be made with permission from a regulatory body. This is not a trivial process. Many gaming commissions also make the percentage information publicly available. There are also plenty of other resources where a player can obtain this information.

    I’m not saying that playing the slots are a good idea. They’re the worst odds out of just about anything in a casino. With that being the case, slots don’t have to cheat. Even if a slot machine pays out 93% of the time (common payout for Vegas slots), the house is still taking 7 cents for every dollar you stick in the machine. Obviously this adds up. There is nothing deceptive about this.

    A great deal of info can be found here.

    ~j

  69. TVGenius says:

    I agree with the Lottery=Tax on Stupidity line earlier.

    So what if the top prize is gone? As long as there are other prizes available, I see no problem, just someone looking to start a pointless class action lawsuit after they gambled too much away and lost their house.

  70. no.no.notorious says:

    I saw this on the news about a week ago. There are still smaller prizes available. Sure, you can’t win the $1,000,000, but the chance to win $1000 isn’t bad either. Maybe they should be sold at a discount price if some people are so disgruntled about it

  71. Mira Mi Huevo!!! says:

    When I was younger I used to work in a service station and the majority of “scratch off” tickets’ buyers were seniors and low-income people. They must have had some kind of expectation in order to buy these. Let’s have them check the internet to see if the high prizes have been awarded.

    Ohh yeah, Most senior citizens don’t know their way around a computer and low-income individuals don’t even have one…

  72. Mira Mi Huevo!!! says:

    @no.no.notorious: Now thats an idea!!!

  73. MercuryPDX says:

    @ThomFabian: Oh I know. I’m just amazed that people think that “If I buy 5 tickets, there’s one winner in there….”, 10 tickets = Two winners etc…

    So much so that they needed to explain the odds.

  74. MercuryPDX says:

    @algormortis: A friend of mine tried to convince me to try the new WA State Raffle. He bought 5 tickets for $100 saying how great the odds were….

    …so great that they weren’t in his favor and all 5 tix were losers. :(

    Voluntary Tax on the “less informed” indeed.

  75. Tiber says:

    @j4yx0r: Ok, slight mistake. My reference was

    “> How It’s Made around 4:30 (My last experience embedding youtube went horribly, so let’s see if this works).

    According to this, it says “it’s pre-programmed to pay out a certain amount at random intervals over a period of time, but, less money of course, than the machine takes in overall.”
    That sounds to me like much the same thing as what’s happening here with the scratch tickets.

  76. Tiber says:

    Yup, it hates me. Just go here:

    If this doesn’t work, just search on youtube for “How it’s made slot machine”

  77. dottat1 says:

    I can tell you what will happen here..

    The states are going to make it so that ALL large cash winnings are made via drawing AFTER the last ticket of that type is sold…

    I bet $ on that.

  78. MrEvil says:

    I could care less about this scratch off business. I hate the nutsacks that buy 3 scratch-offs and then STAND THERE AT THE FREAKING COUNTER! scratching the damn things off, then expecting the cashier to immediately pay out. Excuse me, but people are waiting to get raped for gas.

    I also find it odd that Texas has a lottery, but you can’t legally play Texas Hold’em ANYWHERE in the state.

  79. jswilson64 says:

    @MrEvil: “I could care less”

    Really? I couldn’t…

    :-)

  80. j4yx0r says:

    @dottat1: Thanks for the correction and reference. I can see how what they’re saying could be misconstrued.

    ~j

  81. j4yx0r says:

    @j4yx0r: Ooops. That was actually @Tiber

    ~j