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Michigan Lottery selling scratch games after top prize gone

Feb 22, 2005, 10:39 am

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Michigan LotteryMichigan Lottery: Michigan Lottery selling scratch games after top prize gone

It's called The Golden Pack, a Michigan Lottery game that costs you $10 to play, with the promise that you can walk away a millionaire. But in truth, you can't come anywhere near the top prize -- it was won long ago.

Only two Golden Pack tickets were truly golden, but the rest are still for sale.

What's left is a maximum prize of $10,000, but lottery officials say they're not deceiving anyone. Read the small print, they say, or check the lottery's Web site, which lists weekly grand prize updates.

The news is a surprise to some lotto players.

"Whaddya mean I can't win the top prize?" said Bill Christman, 64, a Warren truck driver who bought a scratch-off ticket last week.

As of Monday, five of the 38 instant games still shipped to stores no longer offer grand prizes. And top prizes are gone in as many as 100 other games that may still be sold, lottery officials said. That means untold numbers of players over the next several months will buy tickets that cost as much as $10 without any chance of winning a top prize.

"If the top prize is gone, the ticket shouldn't be for sale," Christman said. "It isn't fair."

He is among the players who feel taken when they find they're playing for substantially less money than what's splashed across the front of tickets.

A disclaimer on the back of each ticket tells players "prizes are subject to prior sales," but consumer advocates said the vague language is hardly a warning.

The lottery introduces about 72 instant games a year, each shipped to stores for two to five months, but some are available for a year or longer, lottery officials said. Games expire 18 months after they're introduced.

Both old and new games are sold in stores, and lottery officials aren't sure how many tickets from old games remain on store shelves.

The state stopped filling orders from stores for The Golden Pack, introduced last September, on Friday. But it's still sold widely. Michigan Lottery commissioner Gary Peters said grand prizes account for only about 15 percent of the potential winnings for each game.

"Certainly, folks play for the grand prize, but they also play for the other prizes," Peters said. "There's still some very nice prizes to win (when the grand prize is gone). ... Folks who are just playing to win the top prize need to check the Internet."

There are usually two top prizes available for each game, and when they're gone, they're gone, Peters said. He doesn't pull the games when someone hits the jackpot because millions in smaller prizes remain.

One $5 game, for example, Roll Out the Cash, has $3.6 million remaining in unclaimed prizes, Peters said. Both of the game's grand prizes, $250,000 apiece, are gone.

"If I pulled it, folks are going to say, 'You pulled a game with $3.6 million left to win,'" Peters said. "I'd be criticized for that."

Perhaps, but the Michigan Lottery Web site shows that Roll Out the Cash players don't have much of a chance to cash in. There's one $10,000 winning ticket remaining and three $1,000 winners

In all of the games, some players play to win the grand prize. Otherwise, why play, they say. They said the state should offer more top prizes and force retailers to post the availability of those prizes next to the tickets.

"They should get rid of the games if there's no top prize left -- that's what I'm after," said Shannon Elder, 57, a salesman from Burt who stopped at a Sterling Heights party store to pick up a scratch-off ticket last week.

The state can and should do more for players, consumer advocates said.

"Unfortunately, we know people don't read fine print and not everyone has Internet access," said Megan Owens, of Public Interest Research Group In Michigan, an Ann Arbor-based consumer watchdog group. "While, technically, they're not doing anything illegal, they are being misleading."

A Duke University professor who published a book about state lotteries, "Selling Hope," said the Michigan Lottery should be more upfront, especially on the back of instant tickets.

"Probably, the reasonable thing to say is, 'By the time you buy this ticket, the million dollars may be gone, but there are still $5 prizes available,'" said Charles Clotfelter, professor of public policy, economics and law at Duke.

Clotfelter said lottery officials probably don't want to make too many changes to instant tickets, a cash cow for the state. During each of the last five years, instant games were the Lottery's top moneymaker.

In 2004, a record year for the lottery, the department had sales of $1.9 billion, including $690 million from scratch-offs.

Store owners, who keep 6 percent of their lottery sales, don't see a problem.

"The more games I have, the better it is for the store because people can play whatever game they like," said Lorenza Caradonna, who co-owns Car-Donna Party Store on Mound in Sterling Heights with her husband, Jack.

The Caradonnas drape their instant tickets like streamers from liquor shelves behind a counter. Customers can see all 37 different games for sale, including some that say, "Win up to $250,000" and "Win up to $1,000,000."

The Caradonnas sell thousands of dollars of scratch-offs every week, reeling in a ton of business from the Visteon Corp. parts plant across the street. Some of the workers who play hope the next ticket is the one, but almost all of them settle for much smaller prizes or nothing.

"It gives me something to do other than read the paper. I get so bored being a cleaner," said Betty McCarter, 54, of Detroit, who on Wednesday bought three $2 tickets and a bottle of Faygo.

McCarter doesn't mind scratching tickets with no shot at winning a grand prize.

"I can still win $5 or $10," she said.

Most players aren't as ambivalent when they find out they bought a ticket that won't make them rich, even though it says it could.

"I had a guy come in here the other day who started yelling at me," Jack Caradonna said. "He said, 'How can you sell me this ticket? I can't win with this ticket.'"

Scratch and win?

As of Monday, five of the 38 instant games that are shipped to Michigan retailers no longer offer grand prizes:

  • Love That Loot, $2 game with both $14,000 top prizes claimed

  • Snow Bank, $2 game with both $15,000 top prizes claimed

  • Magic 21, $2 game with both $21,000 top prizes claimed

  • Silver Streak, $2 game with both $25,000 top prizes claimed

  • Roll Out The Cash, $5 game with both $250,000 top prizes claimed

To check all games, including ones like The Golden Pack, which is still on store shelves but is no longer being replenished, go to: www.michigan.gov/lottery/1,1607,7-110-821_918---,00.html

Detroit News

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16 comments. Last comment 15 years ago by Maverick.
Page 1 of 2
MADDOG10's avatar - smoke
Beautiful Florida
United States
Member #5709
July 18, 2004
23974 Posts
Posted: February 22, 2005, 11:28 am - IP Logged

 what a sad state of affairs the "michigan lottery", must be in to be so vauge in thier language of what is left to win on each ticket. talk about deceit! why don't they just put a sticker on each ticket saying "c mon sucker, have we got a deal for you". Christ, at least be up front with the people who buy these tickets, and print out a flyer telling what is left on each game instead of " sale by deceit". words can coverup anything you want them to, but dventally they will come back to haunt you..!

    what this commission needs to do, is to take a good look at themselves and ask, are we doing "right by the people", or are we doing this for ourselves or are we filling the state coiffures with "money by deceit"

    they need to stand up with some intestinal fortitude, instead of the "jelly bean" image that they're projecting to the the players in michigan.!!! 


                                               "Slander becomes the tool of the loser when the debate is lost." - Socrates.

    United States
    Member #379
    June 5, 2002
    11296 Posts
    Posted: February 22, 2005, 11:30 am - IP Logged

    NY annuity-only scratches really don't tell you on the front "X annual payments" or whatever.

      United States
      Member #3676
      February 10, 2004
      425 Posts
      Posted: February 22, 2005, 1:20 pm - IP Logged

      That is why they should offer more tickets with nice mid range prizes , instead of 3 grand prizes of a million and say 40 second place prizes of 10k, how about 30 100k prizes, that away you get more mileage out of the tickets.  Id rather have a 100k to one chance of winning 100k than a million to one shot at winning a million.

        East Jordan, MI
        United States
        Member #2
        June 1, 2001
        675 Posts
        Posted: February 22, 2005, 2:18 pm - IP Logged

        The lottery reps do distribute flyers, when they visit retailers, which shows what prizes and how many remain to be claimed.

        Of course the retailer doesn't want to share this information when they have partial "books" sitting in the display case.

        I worked at 7-11 at one time.....

          DoctorEw220's avatar - alien helmet.jpg
          Yinzer Country, PA
          United States
          Member #4067
          March 18, 2004
          2741 Posts
          Posted: February 22, 2005, 6:22 pm - IP Logged

          they put a disclaimer on the ticket. that means that they can still sell the game after all top prizes have been claimed. players should stop complaining, and understand that there is that chance that all top prizes have been claimed, or they have been bought and not claimed. the lottery is doing their part by not filling orders for the games in question.

          I've redone my website.  Go to www.dr-ew.com.  I kept a lot of the old stuff, and I've added some new stuff.  Look for more new stuff in the coming weeks.

            Badger's avatar - adu50016 NorthAmericanBadger.jpg
            United States
            Member #1303
            March 27, 2003
            1508 Posts
            Posted: February 22, 2005, 6:34 pm - IP Logged

            THe Wisconsin Lottery just got a bunch of bad publicity here for doing the exact same thing with their scratch-offs. The state congress was not pleased. But (gasp and shock) .....it seemed to be a blip on the news scene, and quickly faded.


            How can you tell if a politician is lying?

            Answer: His lips are moving.


              United States
              Member #9000
              November 25, 2004
              378 Posts
              Posted: February 22, 2005, 7:06 pm - IP Logged

              I really don't see what the BIG DEAL is here recently about this subject.  EVERYONE should know when they buy the ticket the Top Prizes may already be gone anyways.  YOU take that CHANCE everytime you buy a scratch-off ticket.

              We shall see! 

                fbird's avatar - nw archer.jpg
                White Lake,Mi
                United States
                Member #1495
                May 12, 2003
                5614 Posts
                Posted: February 22, 2005, 7:57 pm - IP Logged

                Geez.... Misleading you bet... and with financial intent. I very rarely buy the instant games. But I use the web site to make an inform choice.But with the MSL.. who knows??? With their recent Red Bull promotion, and the obvious manipulations of it and on live telecast, that, in and of itself showed me how LOW they would stoop for the all mighty buck. So does it surprise me that they would intentionally mislead people into believing that the BIG prizes are still left......well how do I say this??? Wake up and smell what they are shoveling, but unfortunately other than the casinos...they are the only (rigged) game in town.


                Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me: I may not follow.

                Just walk beside me and be my friend.

                          Albert Camus

                  United States
                  Member #3676
                  February 10, 2004
                  425 Posts
                  Posted: February 22, 2005, 8:54 pm - IP Logged

                  That is why ALL state websites should update this info daily. Why is that so hard, just hook up some computer programs.  Iowa is really the only state that does it daily and they should be commended.  Relying on some flier that is old anyway is a waste of time.  I only buy tickets here in ILLinois where the ratio of big winners is in proportion or greater than the percentage of lower tier prizes left.

                    lazyjim's avatar - redhead
                    White Mountains AZ
                    United States
                    Member #11140
                    February 6, 2005
                    114 Posts
                    Posted: February 23, 2005, 2:16 am - IP Logged

                    Lottery officials prosper at the largess of the people buying the tickets and should be a little more responsive to their input.  As the political hacks they are however, owing allegiance only to their respective governors and the bottom line, they are not really concerned with the whims and qualms of the Great Unwashed as such.

                    The only thing that would make them listen to us would be a sharp decline in their bottom line, casting an unfavorable light on them and drawing the attention of their mentors.  It could be done if the people in Michigan boycotted the lottery en masse for just a day or two or a week. They would then become responsive and stop looking down their noses at us and telling us to "read the fine print."

                    It's true that people should keep informed on these issues before buying tickets, but a lot of people buying instant tickets don't have the means or the intelligence and are being sold a pig in a poke by these states like Michigan.     

                      Maverick's avatar - yinyang
                      United States
                      Member #8242
                      October 29, 2004
                      1133 Posts
                      Posted: February 23, 2005, 9:22 pm - IP Logged
                      Quote: Originally posted by fbird on February 22, 2005

                      Wake up and smell what they are shoveling, but unfortunately other than the casinos...they are the only (rigged) game in town.

                        Bradly_60's avatar - disney37
                        Atlantic Mine, Michigan
                        United States
                        Member #416
                        June 23, 2002
                        1614 Posts
                        Posted: February 26, 2005, 2:19 pm - IP Logged

                        I don't see what the big problem is.  So what if they sell the left overs after all the top prizes are gone.  Who cares.  I mean what if the contractor printed the tickets and the two top prizes were in the first 100,000 tickets.  The lottery can't take a hit like that. 

                        I agree.  Michigan had a game called Super 6's once.  It was a $5 ticket and the top prize was $6000.  I mean there was top prizes out there until the came became retired.  They should do more tickets like that.

                        But the lottery is listen to the players.  Stores now get weekly updates on top prizes left on games and they are posted all over the place in the stores now.  So the people got their way I guess.


                          KyMystikal's avatar - 1457224010054
                          Florence, Alabama
                          United States
                          Member #8658
                          November 13, 2004
                          2033 Posts
                          Posted: February 26, 2005, 10:35 pm - IP Logged

                          This here kind of reminds me of "Pull-Tab" games. Here in Ky you used to only be able to cash winning tickets in the store were the ticket was purchased. A few years back they changed it so you could cash them at any lottery retailer. I was told it was to make it easier for players to cash in winning tickets. Personally, I think it was done so that no one would know if the big prize was in the machine because it could be cashed anywhere.  I've seen it before where a regular player would ask the retailer if the big prize was in there and they would tell them so they could win it. Now they can't unless the ticket is cashed there. In a way I like it and I don't. I like it because it helps the retailer get rid of all the lower prizes and non winners and I don't like it if I'm the one playing the machine all the way done to find there is no big winner left in it. Also here they post winning tickets left for scratch offs but a lot of retailers don't post them. I think so they can sell the rest of the tickets that they have.

                          I love doubles and remember, it's just a game!!!!!!

                            Maverick's avatar - yinyang
                            United States
                            Member #8242
                            October 29, 2004
                            1133 Posts
                            Posted: February 26, 2005, 11:10 pm - IP Logged

                            Too bad not all store owners post the weekly updates.