• State of Virginia Sued Over "Zero" Chance Lottery
  • August 18, 2008
  • Law Firm: Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP - Los Angeles Office
  • A business professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia has sued the state for breach of contract for selling lottery tickets after the top prize had already been awarded.

    The $5 scratch-off ticket called “Beginner’s Luck” featured a $75,000 grand prize. But someone had already won the top prize one month before the business professor, Scott Hoover, bought his ticket.

    Hoover’s lawyer says he has records showing that the Virginia State Lottery sold $85 million in lottery tickets for which no top prize was available.

    Virginia State Lottery Executive Director Paula Otto counters that the top prize represents just a small portion of the money awarded to lottery players. Otto adds that the state has discontinued the practice of selling tickets with no top prizes available.

    “We absolutely have always been very open and honest with our players about the way our scratch tickets are distributed,” Otto said. “Yes, there were times when there was a scratch game out there that might [have] said ‘zero’ in terms of the number of top prizes, but our players knew that.”

    About half of the 42 states that sponsor lotteries continue to sell tickets after the top prizes are awarded. Lottery officials argue that the policy is fair because other prizes are still available, and that tickets and lottery Web sites clearly disclose that the top prize may no longer be available.