A lawsuit claims the New York State Division of Lottery is tricking people into playing its Take Five lottery game by exaggerating the likelihood of winning.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Monday, said people were cheated of more than $5 million. It seeks unspecified damages and an order putting a stop to what it portrayed as a rip-off.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit was identified as M. McKee, a resident of Richmond County.
The lawsuit called her an "especially avid purchaser of tickets for Take Five" and thus a target of a massive advertising campaign across television, radio and print.
The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, said she was tricked by advertising that promised a one-in-nine chance of winning, when the actual most likely result is what is called a "Quick Pick Free Play."
It said that amounts to another chance to hit two of the game's five numbers, drawn daily from 39 different numbers. The lawsuit said the actual odds of winning a cash prize was 1-in-109, a sixth place prize of an average of $7.
The lawsuit said that despite this, the advertising boasts that there are 100,000 winners in the game every day. The filing seeks to hold liable some of the merchants who sell lottery tickets, saying they were complicit in the fraud.
"The odds are very well detailed for all our games," said John Charlson, a spokesman for the state Lottery Division. "The clear message is that the one-in-nine odds definitely includes winning a Free Play, and that's conveyed in our brochure and on our Web site."
He said he hadn't yet seen the lawsuit, but said it sounded like it was reiterating a complaint made last week by Councilman Peter Vallone.