Ten thousand scratch tickets from Massachusetts' new $640 Million Jubilee game are potentially defective -- but state Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill is refusing to issue a recall, despite fears the flawed tickets could skew the odds or even deprive somebody of a big jackpot.
The $10 tickets, which were just unveiled two weeks ago, contain an uneven coating of the chemical that makes the latex scratching surface stick to the ticket's paper -- making them unscratchable.
Over the past 11 days, one Lottery agent has returned 10 books totaling 1,000 scratch tickets -- sparking an investigation that's uncovered 100 books, or 10,000 tickets, with the potential defect.
Nine thousand of those tickets remain in circulation, and Treasury officials admit they don't know the books' location and haven't yet alerted Lottery agents to the glitch.
Lottery officials have been quietly investigating, and tried to downplay the significance yesterday -- saying the defect only affects a small percentage of the 80 million Jubilee tickets that were printed.
Cahill refused to be interviewed, but First Deputy Treasurer Doug Rubin said officials' "utmost" concern is ensuring the integrity of Lottery games, which generate billions of dollars annually in local aid for cities and towns.
"We are going to conduct a thorough investigation," Rubin said. "We're going to make a decision that's in the best interest of our players."
Treasury officials promised that anyone who buys a defective ticket can take it to a Lottery processing center and have the bar-code scanned. Winners will be honored, officials said.
A recall is unlikely, Rubin said, adding that the main option is having Lottery agents return books as they realize they're bad.
Yanking 10,000 tickets out of circulation -- including potential major prize winners -- could skew the game's odds, but Treasury officials say they don't yet know the full impact.
The uncertainties alarmed Rep. George N. Peterson, a regular player who hit a $4,000 jackpot two years ago on a $10 scratch ticket.
"People are paying good money to buy a ticket and buy a chance," Peterson, R-Grafton, said. "I might not be buying these $10 tickets until I hear what's going on with them."
Legislative leaders, who recently gave the Lottery $5 million to advertise its games, were upset that Cahill has been slow to notify the gaming public -- saying "word of mouth" could be bad for business.
"They need to be a little more proactive," said House Republican Leader Bradley H. Jones, R-North Reading.