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Lottery scratch games still being sold after jackpots are gone

Insider BuzzInsider Buzz: Lottery scratch games still being sold after jackpots are gone
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Feeling lucky today?

Then don't buy a $20 scratch-off ticket for the New Jersey Lottery's "$1,000,000 Explosion" game.

Your chances of winning the $1 million top prize are Z-E-R-O.

The six top prizes were awarded months ago, but the $20 tickets are still on sale. The best prize available today is $10,000.

State lotteries are coming under renewed criticism for selling scratch-off tickets after the top prizes have been given away. The latest challenge comes from a professor who says he intends to sue Virginia for allegedly selling $20 million a year in lottery tickets that had no top prize available.

About half of the 42 states that have lotteries (43 with Washington, D.C.) — including Florida, New Jersey, Michigan and Tennessee — keep selling tickets after the top prizes are gone. The states say the practice is fair because lottery tickets and websites disclose the practice.  Also, other prizes are available.

Sales of scratch-off lottery tickets have soared since the introduction of high-priced tickets designed to have huge jackpots — $1 million or more is common — that can be won instantly.

The "$1,000,000 Explosion" was New Jersey's first $20 ticket and very popular, said lottery spokesman Dominick DeMarco. Most tickets are gone, although the game won't end until July 21.

California, New York, Massachusetts and other states now end scratch-off games when top prizes are gone. The changes often followed lawsuits that were unsuccessful but generated bad publicity. The lawsuits "sure changed the way lotteries do business," says attorney Rob Carey, who filed suits in California, Colorado, Arizona and Washington.

In August 2007, Washington and Lee University business professor Scott Hoover bought $5 tickets for a game called "Beginners Luck" in Virginia. Later, he learned the top prize was awarded in July. Using public records, Hoover calculated that the state sold about $20 million annually for three years in tickets when a top prize wasn't available. He says the state should compensate these players.

"They were promising $75,000 prizes that weren't there," says John Fishwick, Hoover's lawyer.

Virginia Lottery executive director Paula Otto says the lottery as of July 2007 now ends scratch-off games after the last top prize is awarded.

USA Today, Lottery Post Staff

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21 comments. Last comment 6 years ago by MaddMike51.
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Talking Rock, GA
United States
Member #60369
April 15, 2008
398 Posts
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Posted: June 30, 2008, 1:58 pm - IP Logged

Here in GA, it took an investigation by WAGA Fox 5's "I-Team" for the GA Lottery to start posting a list of how many grand prizes are left for each available game (available as in deliverable to retailers).

I've actually emailed the GA Lottery asking them to do like South Carolina does, which is post complete odds, methods of winning prizes (e.g. on $1 Junior Jumbo Bucks in GA, a $25 winner can be obtained by Jumbo $5 and Jumbo $3 + $10), and number of prizes available for ALL tiers of prizes, from free tickets/breakevens all the way to grand prizes.  I did it last week and I've yet to get a response.

Ever since the GA Lottery posted the list of grand prizes available, I've actually changed the way I play somewhat.  If there's no new tickets available that week (or any I haven't tried), I tend to go with the tickets with the most grand prizes remaining (if there's a tie, I go with the ticket with better overall odds) or the best overall odds.  If GA listens and puts up detailed odds like SC, I'll probably change my playing again with the new stats.  I actually keep an Excel spreadsheet with a list of all the tickets (grouped by price range), their overall odds of winning (all tickets in each group are sorted by this), and number of grand prizes left.

IMO, all states need to release the number of grand prizes remaining at least, along with a list of odds for all prizes for that particular game.  It's bad knowing, after the fact, that all the grand prizes are gone for that game after you just bought that ticket.

A Gold account on Lottery Post:  $4.95

A Millionaire Jumbo Bucks scratcher:  $20

Airfare and hotel in March 2007 to see The Price Is Right before Bob Barker retired:  $600-something

Winning something to get a trip to a district office:  Priceless Big Grin

    ThatScaryChick's avatar - 61A4sr9 jpg?1
    Idaho
    United States
    Member #56506
    November 21, 2007
    4754 Posts
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    Posted: June 30, 2008, 2:10 pm - IP Logged

    I think all states should quit selling tickets when the Grand Prize is gone. It misleads the public into thinking that they still have a chance to win the big prize which is misleading.

    "No one remembers the person who almost climbed the mountain, only the person who eventually gets to the top."


      United States
      Member #58528
      February 18, 2008
      710 Posts
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      Posted: June 30, 2008, 3:34 pm - IP Logged

      Here in Iowa the lottery posts how many of the top tier prizes are left for each scratch off game on their website.The list is updated daily,except for weekends & holidays.I suppose you could end up buying a ticket that was sold after the grandprize tickets were all sold because of the lag time it takes to contact all of the retailers to pull the tickets.A person could also buy the last grandprize winner on Monday but not cash it in until Friday and the lottery might not know its been sold if the winner didn't have the ticket verified at the retailer.Iowa has been pretty good about keeping its lottery fair & honest.

       

      http://www.ialottery.com/Games/RemainingPrizes.asp

        Bradly_60's avatar - disney37
        Atlantic Mine, Michigan
        United States
        Member #416
        June 23, 2002
        1614 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: June 30, 2008, 3:37 pm - IP Logged

        Michigan does have this situation too.  They always sell tickets after the top prizes are claimed.  But the odds of winning a top prize are so high I just usually buy them for a little entertainment and maybe and extra $20. 

        Ohio seems to have a good idea.  Save a top prize drawing until the end of the game and then give it out.  That way there still is a top prize and you can sell all the tickets.  I mean it would really suck for a state to say for instance the 2 top prizes in a game to be in the first tickets.  They would lose money and no one likes to lose money.

        Brad

          psykomo's avatar - animal shark.jpg

          United States
          Member #4877
          May 30, 2004
          4641 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: June 30, 2008, 3:46 pm - IP Logged

             $The LOTTERY i$ A MONEY MAKING MACHINE$

                They are OUT for UR MONEY!!!! They are selling U a "DREAM" !!!!

          IF U LOSE<<<<<U can't get UR MONEY BACK>>>>>!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          TRANSLATION:

          ALL lottery player's KNOW that........but, PSYKO>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

          BUTT PSYKO trie's to get the MONY everytime HE pay'$$$$$$$$$$$$

          LOL

          PSYKOMO

            Avatar

            Honduras
            Member #20982
            August 29, 2005
            4715 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: June 30, 2008, 6:02 pm - IP Logged

            Well learn something new...

            But you can always add more scratchoff tickets.....

              JAP69's avatar - Lottery-053.jpg
              South Carolina
              United States
              Member #6
              November 4, 2001
              8516 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: June 30, 2008, 6:41 pm - IP Logged

              S.Carolina have notices right at the retail level that all top prizes may have been claimed in any scratch game. But the games are still sold.

              I have also seen posted in the stores the prizes remaining in any scratch game. I do not know when this notice is updated for remaining prizes.

              Stats hunting: Type

                Avatar
                Mid-Atlantic
                United States
                Member #22203
                September 20, 2005
                35 Posts
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                Posted: June 30, 2008, 6:54 pm - IP Logged

                Here in Iowa the lottery posts how many of the top tier prizes are left for each scratch off game on their website.The list is updated daily,except for weekends & holidays.I suppose you could end up buying a ticket that was sold after the grandprize tickets were all sold because of the lag time it takes to contact all of the retailers to pull the tickets.A person could also buy the last grandprize winner on Monday but not cash it in until Friday and the lottery might not know its been sold if the winner didn't have the ticket verified at the retailer.Iowa has been pretty good about keeping its lottery fair & honest.

                 

                http://www.ialottery.com/Games/RemainingPrizes.asp

                In Delaware the retailers are notified through their terminals and by phone from the Instant ticket sales people as soon as the last top prize in a game is sold.  The retailers are instructed to immediately remove the game from sale and return it to the Lottery.  It's only fair even though there are often lots of prizes left in the game.

                Second chance drawings and awarding a top prize through such a drawing is one way of extending the life of a game.

                  DC81's avatar - batman39
                  MI
                  United States
                  Member #54830
                  August 31, 2007
                  977 Posts
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                  Posted: June 30, 2008, 7:05 pm - IP Logged

                  I saw a story about this on TV. Michigan and the other states that were doing this are seriously going to be screwed. I'm sure they'll settle since if they don't they could lose a lot and I do mean a lot of money.

                  You can't predict random.


                    United States
                    Member #58528
                    February 18, 2008
                    710 Posts
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                    Posted: June 30, 2008, 7:36 pm - IP Logged

                    In Delaware the retailers are notified through their terminals and by phone from the Instant ticket sales people as soon as the last top prize in a game is sold.  The retailers are instructed to immediately remove the game from sale and return it to the Lottery.  It's only fair even though there are often lots of prizes left in the game.

                    Second chance drawings and awarding a top prize through such a drawing is one way of extending the life of a game.

                    I don't know how the retailers in Iowa are notified,probably pretty much the same as in Delaware,I imagine.But there is still going to be some lag time after the top prize is sold.Supposedly,the Lottery doesn't know when or where the ticket will be sold.They wouldn't know it was sold until someone had it verified at the retailer or redeemed it at Lottery headquarters.

                     

                    Iowa had a $10 ticket a few years ago that was pulled after 3 weeks because all of the top prizes had been won.One top prize of $50,000 was won just minutes after the ticket hit the stores.

                      TheGameGrl's avatar - necros
                      Pennsylvania
                      United States
                      Member #17084
                      June 10, 2005
                      3157 Posts
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                      Posted: June 30, 2008, 9:02 pm - IP Logged

                      Perhaps I am missing the mark here, but I disagree that the lottery is only being sold for the top prize category. Winning 10k in change is still worth the effort to keep the tickets on sale. Its a TIERED payout so they arent misleading anyone other then the folks who are narrow minded and think that only 4 grand prizes are worthy of being on sale for. Even powerball players know that they have a slim chance of hitting the major winning but I bet anyone who hit 10k or 200k isnt gripping at that second or third tier prize payout.

                      ________________________________

                      Signature quote: Thinking positive never won me a lottery, Thinking negative never lost me a lottery, Playing it though, wins more often.

                        truecritic's avatar - PirateTreasure
                        Michigan
                        United States
                        Member #22395
                        September 24, 2005
                        1583 Posts
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                        Posted: June 30, 2008, 9:54 pm - IP Logged

                        Perhaps I am missing the mark here, but I disagree that the lottery is only being sold for the top prize category. Winning 10k in change is still worth the effort to keep the tickets on sale. Its a TIERED payout so they arent misleading anyone other then the folks who are narrow minded and think that only 4 grand prizes are worthy of being on sale for. Even powerball players know that they have a slim chance of hitting the major winning but I bet anyone who hit 10k or 200k isnt gripping at that second or third tier prize payout.

                        If you have a top prize available, I am sure many more players are willing to spend the $20 - to take the chance of hitting it.   Why does anyone want to spend $20 to hit a smaller prize when another game might still have a Million Dollars for the same price?

                        I disagree with pulling the game just because the top prize is won.    The solution is rather simple, if the top prize is $1,000,000 for a $20 ticket.   Then someone wins it and the next prize is $500,000, the ticket price should be cut in half ($10).   And so on, until all the prizes are gone.

                          rcbbuckeye's avatar - Lottery-043.jpg
                          Texas
                          United States
                          Member #55889
                          October 23, 2007
                          3507 Posts
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                          Posted: June 30, 2008, 11:01 pm - IP Logged

                          If you have a top prize available, I am sure many more players are willing to spend the $20 - to take the chance of hitting it.   Why does anyone want to spend $20 to hit a smaller prize when another game might still have a Million Dollars for the same price?

                          I disagree with pulling the game just because the top prize is won.    The solution is rather simple, if the top prize is $1,000,000 for a $20 ticket.   Then someone wins it and the next prize is $500,000, the ticket price should be cut in half ($10).   And so on, until all the prizes are gone.

                          I rarely play scratchers, but when I do, I always check online to see what payouts are left, along with overall odds on different tickets I'm considering. A couple years ago a lady in Garland made a big stink about top prizes being gone and tickets still being sold. To me, it's just common sense to check online before buying.

                          Cutting the ticket price when the top prizes are gone is not a bad idea, and would probably help the state sell remaining tickets faster.

                            Avatar
                            Los Angeles CA
                            United States
                            Member #55727
                            October 16, 2007
                            195 Posts
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                            Posted: June 30, 2008, 11:28 pm - IP Logged

                            The thing that appalled me the most about this story, was the fact that one of the states in questions felt it was okay since they posted that information on their website, I'm sorry but to assume everyone has internet access is a complete joke, especially when the majority of scratch off buyers are lower income families, and even with the library excuse most these families work when librarys are open. Unless this information is posted at every scratch off retailer you can't use that excuse.

                            Thank goodness I live in a state that already had a law suit to stop this practice.

                            EXMECHANIC

                            "My dollar buys hope, what does yours do?"