Welcome Guest
Log In | Register )
You last visited December 9, 2016, 12:16 pm
All times shown are
Eastern Time (GMT-5:00)

Man sues S.C. Lottery, claiming the state is misleading ticket buyers

South Carolina LotterySouth Carolina Lottery: Man sues S.C. Lottery, claiming the state is misleading ticket buyers

A Charleston County, South Carolina, man has sued the state lottery for fraud, claiming false advertising caused him to buy scratch-off lottery tickets for prizes already claimed.

Pete Cuming filed the lawsuit one week after a state audit revealed the lottery, in a single year, sold nearly $20 million worth of tickets in 16 scratch-off games after all the contests' top prizes were awarded. His lawyers are seeking class action status, saying the millions of dollars represent thousands of misled ticket buyers.

"In essence, a player is led to believe that he or she has the chance to win the top prize advertised even though he or she does not," the lawsuit said.

Attorney David Haller of Mount Pleasant called Cuming a routine scratch-off player but declined to say how much his client had spent on the games. The issue, he said, is that Cuming and others purchase tickets in hopes of winning an advertised top prize that no longer exists.

Ernie Passailaigue, the lottery's executive director, declined Thursday to talk about the lawsuit, except to say, "We intend to show up in court and defend the lawsuit vigorously." He and the Lottery Commission's six members are named in the suit, filed Dec. 22 in Richland County, where the lottery is headquartered.

Barbara Pate, an employee of an Exxon gas station in Columbia which sold the state's first scratch-off tickets in January 2002, called Cuming's lawsuit "ridiculous." She said customers at her store spend up to several hundred dollars at a time on scratch-off tickets, sometimes buying an entire roll of $10 tickets because those pay out the most.

"He didn't have to buy the tickets," Pate said.

Haller acknowledged those playing are entitled to buy or not buy lottery tickets. But their decisions should be based on accurate information, he said.

"They're not getting a fair shot to make an informed decision," he said.

Each week, the lottery updates online the total prize money and top prizes left in its instant games. But prizes are often claimed and unavailable within each seven-day update, and no one knows, Haller said. Also, he said, many who play the scratch-off games don't have access to the lottery's Web site.

When the Legislative Audit Council released the lottery audit Dec. 15, Lottery Commission Chairman John C.B. Smith Jr. called the scratch-off findings no big deal.

"We have a rich lower-tier prize structure, and we find that most players are playing the scratch off games for the lower-tier prizes," he said then.

But state Sen. Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken, said that's not an adequate response, since the state continues to promote games based on the most they pay out. He said the lottery should immediately notify retailers when someone claims the top prizes and require they stop selling those tickets, as lotteries in California and Virginia do.

"If we're knowingly selling tickets for prizes people have no chance of winning, it actually borders on criminal," said Ryberg, who added he's never liked the lottery.

"But this is absolutely a new low," he said. "How can we do this to our own people?"

Ryberg is a candidate for state treasurer.

A hearing on the suit was scheduled Friday in Columbia. Cuming's attorneys were asking for a temporary order that would force the state to stop selling tickets for games advertised for more than what's possible to win.

But the state on Thursday moved the case to federal court, which canceled the hearing.

Ryberg called that a mistake.

"I don't see how a state agency can move this to federal court," he said. "This is the state's business and the state courts ought to handle it."

Haller said other lottery players called his Mount Pleasant office nonstop Thursday, after The (Charleston) Post and Courier first reported the lawsuit. Cuming's other attorneys are Lawrence Richter Jr., also of Mount Pleasant, and Dick Harpootlian, the former state Democratic Party chairman who worked to make the lottery legal.

AP

We'd love to see your comments here!  Register for a FREE membership — it takes just a few moments — and you'll be able to post comments here and on any of our forums. If you're already a member, you can Log In to post a comment.

39 comments. Last comment 11 years ago by Iesha Kelly.
Page 1 of 3
Avatar
Coastal Georgia
United States
Member #2653
October 30, 2003
1866 Posts
Offline
Posted: December 30, 2005, 7:23 am - IP Logged

This does bring up an interesting question-

What does Cali and VA do with the  tickets after the top prizes are claimed -pull them from the shelves, send them back to Lottery HQ and destroy them ?

Seems like a waste since the lower tier prizes can still be won. The odds on the top prize are ridiculous anyway...

 

                               

              

 

 

    Winner2Be's avatar - diva
    Charleston
    United States
    Member #1990
    August 5, 2003
    1675 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: December 30, 2005, 8:21 am - IP Logged
    Interesting....
    I live in Charleston...but I don't buy scratch offs so I guess I can't call this attorney. White Bounce
      RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
      mid-Ohio
      United States
      Member #9
      March 24, 2001
      19830 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: December 30, 2005, 8:44 am - IP Logged

      This same problem has come up in other states so it's nothing new.  Ohio resolved it by having a Top Prize Drawing after all the tickets are sold or the game ends.  Tickets with a TPD win a prize and are entered in a drawing for the top prize, so as long as some tickets have a TPD on them a chance to win a big prize still exists.

       * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
         
                   Evil Looking       

        Avatar
        Sparta, NJ
        United States
        Member #18331
        July 9, 2005
        1977 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: December 30, 2005, 9:12 am - IP Logged

        It is like betting on a horse race, and not all the horses run.  Then being told you can't have your money back because we thought the horse would run.  Why should the state get away with the same thing a car dealer is penalized for?  Because they are the state?  It the same old story of screwing the "little people" because they don't have the assets or knowledge of the language to question or complain.

        Cheers

        |||::> *'`*:-.,_,.-:*''*:--->>> Chewie  <<<---.*''*:-.,_,.-:*''* <:::|||

        I only trust myself - and that's a questionable choice

          JAP69's avatar - alas
          South Carolina
          United States
          Member #6
          November 4, 2001
          8790 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: December 30, 2005, 9:22 am - IP Logged

          I can see the drool running out of the lawyers mouths.

          MAGA

            wpb's avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
            Charlotte North Carolina
            United States
            Member #464
            July 9, 2002
            17392 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: December 30, 2005, 10:01 am - IP Logged

            The South Carolina web page clearly tells you how many top prizes are left and the date of the last update.  I think people should check this before buying tickets.

            wpb

              konane's avatar - wallace
              Atlanta, GA
              United States
              Member #1265
              March 13, 2003
              3333 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: December 30, 2005, 10:02 am - IP Logged

              Seems if scratch-off winners with remaining jackpots were updated every 24 hours and individual scratch off game information could be punched up by ticket retailers upon request from a purchaser, it would seem to satisfy any potential argument someone might have.  Needs to also have a disclaimer attached also.

              Good luck to everyone!

                JAP69's avatar - alas
                South Carolina
                United States
                Member #6
                November 4, 2001
                8790 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: December 30, 2005, 10:04 am - IP Logged


                Another thing about scratchers in S.C. that I have seen is that some scratchers can be sent in to the lottery for a second chance drawing for a large prize. That is a large prize still available

                Also another point is on the daily 3 and 4 games. They payout a set figure for the wins on St/bx bets. Should I sue for not getting a prize level that was not paid out on the percentage of the pool for that day.
                I see N.J. has pari-mutel payouts with a payout percentage higher at times than the set figure that we have for st/bx.

                MAGA

                  Tenaj's avatar - michellea
                  Charlotte NC
                  United States
                  Member #17406
                  June 18, 2005
                  4053 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: December 30, 2005, 10:12 am - IP Logged

                  The South Carolina web page clearly tells you how many top prizes are left and the date of the last update.  I think people should check this before buying tickets.

                  Unhappy A list is posted on the wall as well.

                  takeemtothebank

                    konane's avatar - wallace
                    Atlanta, GA
                    United States
                    Member #1265
                    March 13, 2003
                    3333 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: December 30, 2005, 10:23 am - IP Logged


                    Another thing about scratchers in S.C. that I have seen is that some scratchers can be sent in to the lottery for a second chance drawing for a large prize. That is a large prize still available

                    Also another point is on the daily 3 and 4 games. They payout a set figure for the wins on St/bx bets. Should I sue for not getting a prize level that was not paid out on the percentage of the pool for that day.
                    I see N.J. has pari-mutel payouts with a payout percentage higher at times than the set figure that we have for st/bx.

                    Seems that by feigning stupid, people don't want participate in a lottery for a chance to win, they want a guarantee they will win.

                    Attorneys have made whole careers from managing to persuade courts that we're in the dark ages when people didn't know how to read/decipher nor had information readily accessible to find out what they want to know.

                    We have web accessible cell phones now, computers in libraries, internet cafes so there is no excuse.

                     

                    Good luck to everyone!

                      Avatar
                      Coastal Georgia
                      United States
                      Member #2653
                      October 30, 2003
                      1866 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: December 30, 2005, 10:25 am - IP Logged

                      The South Carolina web page clearly tells you how many top prizes are left and the date of the last update.  I think people should check this before buying tickets.

                      Unhappy A list is posted on the wall as well.

                      And the attorney will argue that:

                      *The list on the wall isn't updated as it should be

                      *Lots of scratch off players are not computer-literate and/or own one so they cannot log on and see the updates

                       

                      The craziness will never end 

                       

                                                     

                                    

                       

                       

                        BaristaExpress's avatar - BaristaExpressMX zpsfb0d8b5d.png
                        Magnolia, Delaware
                        United States
                        Member #18795
                        July 20, 2005
                        789 Posts
                        Offline
                        Posted: December 30, 2005, 11:20 am - IP Logged

                        This does bring up an interesting question-

                        What does Cali and VA do with the  tickets after the top prizes are claimed -pull them from the shelves, send them back to Lottery HQ and destroy them ?

                        Seems like a waste since the lower tier prizes can still be won. The odds on the top prize are ridiculous anyway...

                        Here in Delaware as soon as all of the top prizes are won they tell all retailers to pull the remaining tickets off the shelves and send them back to lottery HQ. It's not a waste, they just feel that most who play the (instant/scratch off) lottery tickets want to win the top prizes they have to offer and if they win one of the lower prizes that just makes it all the better to those people! I see it as making the game as even as possible to everyone to win the top prizes. And if they just so happen to be lucky enough to win one of the 2nd or 3rd tier prizes that just makes their playing those games all that much more fun for them!

                        I feel SC needs to be taken to the cleaners for not pulling the remaining tickets when all the top prizes have all been claimed! Selling tickets with no top prizes left could be found to be right on the edge of committing fraud, if not outright fraud! Remember everyone, if that was you or I doing something like that, it would be considered fraud! But since it's a state government approved game it will not be considered fraud on the part of the state of SC! They'll just be told not to do it knowingly any more! 

                        Keep dreaming the impossible dream, it just may come true! Thumbs Up

                          Think's avatar - lightbulb
                          Marquette, MI
                          United States
                          Member #20541
                          August 20, 2005
                          705 Posts
                          Offline
                          Posted: December 30, 2005, 11:47 am - IP Logged

                          I don't understand why people buy scratch off tickets!  Think about it. 

                          1. It is absolutely impossible to win the top prize unless the top prize ticket happens to be in the store where you are buying tickets.

                          2. Somebody somewhere has to decide where to send the top prize winning ticket.

                          3. Look what happend in Indiana when someone in the lottery office told his buddy where the top prize winning ticket was!

                          4. There are better games from the online terminals (at least here in MI)

                            Bradly_60's avatar - disney37
                            Atlantic Mine, Michigan
                            United States
                            Member #416
                            June 23, 2002
                            1614 Posts
                            Offline
                            Posted: December 30, 2005, 12:04 pm - IP Logged

                            We had a big thing about this not to long ago.  There is nothing wrong with states selling tickets after the top prize is awarded.  NO WHERE does it gaurantee that you will win the top prize.  How is it false advertising when they say you can win up to the top prize.  If you don't want to buy tickets that don't have top prizes then find out for yourself which ones those are.  If the states had to pull them from the shelves after the top prize was awarded states would be forced to make sure that one top prize is at the end of the ticket run.  Lotteries aren't there to lose money and they never will.  Here in Michigan they recently started putting on tickets that prizes are based on previous sales and that is good enough for me.  This is some stupid person either trying to make a quick buck or get some attention.

                            Brad