A semi-retired Stanton, Ky., bookkeeper is trying to beat the Kentucky Lottery Corp. over its own game.
Ronald B. Hub said he believed the lottery wasn't playing by its own rules and he wants it punished to the tune of $10 million in a lawsuit he filed.
In the Jefferson Circuit Court suit he filed without a lawyer, Hub challenged the lottery's claim in a promotional brochure that the single-digit numbers printed on tickets in its "Extra Cash" games were randomly generated.
He cited tickets he bought, using the same numbers each time, where losing numbers were printed with much greater frequency than the winning ones.
The lottery denies any wrongdoing. However, it changed the brochure's language after Hub sued to say that "Extra Cash" winners are randomly selected as opposed to the one-digit numbers on the ticket being randomly generated.
The lottery cited Extra Cash as one of the factors for its record sales of $673.5 million in the fiscal year that ended in July. Through early June, the Extra Cash games yielded $4.5 million in sales, with $2.9 million in prizes won, according to a court filing.
The distinction between randomly generated numbers and winners is important to Hub. If the digits were randomly generated, he said, his odds of winning would be greater than the way the lottery actually runs the game a point with which a judge agreed during a pretrial hearing in the case.
Lottery general counsel William May said in an interview that officials changed the wording after Hub filed his suit "to more accurately reflect the randomness of how the game is played."
Other advertising was not changed. "There was no intent to mislead," May said.
Whether Hub will prevail in the case remains to be seen.
During a recent hearing, the same judge who agreed with Hub's basic claim, John W. Potter, told Hub that the lottery had sufficiently answered questions he raised about how Extra Cash works.
Now, Hub said that he's ready for a trial and that the lottery should be punished for the way it described the game.
"I think people should know what the odds are," Hub said. "It's not semantics."
Extra Cash, which started in January, is an instant-win game based on the numbers a player selects for a Pick 3 or Pick 4 drawing. Extra Cash does not depend on the daily drawings that use balls to select winners. Instead it uses the numbers a player selects for a drawing to determine whether they win the instant game.
Someone playing Extra Cash pays 50 cents or $1 to see if their Pick 3 or Pick 4 numbers are instant winners. Then the computer prints numbers below those selected by the player. If any of the player's numbers match the computer-generated numbers below, the player wins the amount of money that is printed beside the matching computer-generated number.
Hub, who said he likes to gamble and regularly spends $10 a week on the Powerball lottery game, said he started playing the Extra Cash game after reading a brochure that said the computer selected numbers would be "randomly generated."
Based on that, he figured that for a Pick 4 ticket using four separate digits, he had at least a 4-in-10 chance of winning every time he played.
"It was too good to be true," he said.
He said he played the game for about 45 days using family birth dates, which did not win as often as he thought they should have given the odds. That led to his legal challenge to the lottery.
For the lawsuit, Hub said he bought groups of tickets, using the same numbers on all tickets in a group to determine how often he would match with the computer-generated numbers.
For instance, in one set of 20 Pick 4 tickets, he used the digits 1, 2, 3 and 4, according to a court filing. In that group of tickets, he had four 4s, two 1s and one 3 that matched the computer-generated numbers. The digits he didn't select showed up in much greater numbers, ranging from 10 to 16 times each.
In a court hearing last summer, Potter agreed that the numbers the computer placed on the ticket weren't purely random.
"It can't be randomly generated numbers or they'd lose their shirt," Potter said.
"Your honor, that's my whole contention," Hub said.
Hub's suit asks for $1,000 in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages. He said he doesn't expect to get $10 million and that he's not in it for the money.
Hub said recently that he'd like to see the game stopped and lottery president Arch Gleason resign.
PAT McDONOGH, THE COURIER-JOURNAL
Ronald Hub sued the Kentucky Lottery for $10 million over its Extra Cash game.
PAT McDONOGH, THE COURIER-JOURNAL
Ronald Hub, right, argued before Judge John Potter in Jefferson Circuit Court. Hub said the lottery's description of one of its games was false.