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Mega Mistakes: Lawsuits Against the Ohio Lottery Commission

Big Ticket Items:

If you are like roughly 50% of the rest of Americans, then “winning the lottery” is a cornerstone of your retirement strategy. Of the $70 billion or so worth of tickets sold in 2016 (Americans spend more on lotto tickets every year than the individual GDPs of 118 countries), $2.7 billion is spent by Ohioans. That’s a lot of scratch-offs. And yes, you read that right, Americans spend more on the lottery than MOST countries produce.

Who Gets a Share in the Office Pool?

With so much money flying around, it seems like there would be a lot of litigation involving lottery claims. Well- there is. Sort of. Most lawsuits seem to involve office pools with a set of facts similar to the following:

Jim, Bob, and Jane all work at Company X. The three have been in an office lotto pool for years. One day, Jim finds out he bought the winning ticket, but only Jim and Jane chipped in money that day since Bob was out sick. Jim and Jane claim the prize and leave Bob out of it. Bob sues Jim and Jane on the grounds that he should be entitled to a share of the award.

Under Ohio law, these kinds of suits can be brought in your local county court and the judge or jury can decide who the rightful prize-winner/s are based on past conduct, written agreements or records, etc. Yes- this does happen, and people sue each other over it: http://www.10tv.com/article/lottery-lawsuit-winner-offers-advice-workers-office-pools

Suing the Ohio Lottery Commission (OLC)

However, it is exceedingly rare for lottery players to sue the Ohio Lottery Commission, but it does happen. In fact, since 1975, only 88 lawsuits have been brought against the OLC, and many of those suits were unrelated to gaming. These suits must be brought in the Ohio Court of Claims, a special court set up specifically to handle claims against Ohio’s State agencies.

Here is a list of the more interesting cases from the last twenty years or so:

Demetriades v. OLC, 2017-00705

Plaintiff purchased ticket and wins $500, then promptly loses ticket. In an incredible example of selectively optimistic memory, plaintiff remembers that prize was worth $500,000 and sues the OLC. OLC is able to recreate records of ticket and proves that it was only worth $500. Plaintiff still able to purchase 500 items from the Dollar Tree.

Estate of Keefe v. OLC, 2017-10035

Plaintiff wins 5 million dollar jackpot. Clerical error on OLC’s claim form states that the prize was 6 million dollars. Plaintiff paid 5 million, sues OLC for an additional 1 million on theory that claim form signed by OLC employee amounted to a contract. Result? OLC wins, contract forms at time of purchase of ticket and ticket holder is only entitled to the actual prize amount certified by the director of the OLC. Winner died during the case, apparently heartbroken for only having 5 million dollars instead of 6 million.

Maffett v. OLC, 2004-09967; Freiling, et al v. OLC, 2003-11275; Constani et al v. OLC, 2003-11615

These three cases were filed shortly after a widespread ticket misprint made apparent winners in the amounts of $2,500, $50,000, and $2,000,000 respectively.

All three ticket buyers were denied their claims and offered a refund of their ticket price. All three sued and lost for the same reason- misprinted tickets are invalid under Ohio law. Not to worry, the OLC refunded the price of the ticket. No word on whether any of them spent it on another ticket.

Dabaja v. OLC, et al., 2012-08567

Four people all claimed to have purchased a 2 million dollar winning ticket and submitted claim forms. Plaintiff sues the OLC and his co-claimants, who happen to be his ex-wife and two of his family members, to be declared the winner (like Highlander, he believed there could be only one).

Other claimants fail to answer the lawsuit and Plaintiff settles the case and goes home with his lump sum payment (about $700,000). Unclear if Thanksgiving was awkward at the Dabaja household.

Palmer et al., v. OLC, 2002-0778; ORC 3770.07(D)

Creditors had a court-ordered structured settlement agreement with a lotto winner which paid the creditors a percent of lottery annuity payments. The OLC was aware of the structured settlement between the winner and the creditors. Lotto winner defaulted on her payments to creditors and creditors sue OLC for failing to make payments directly to the creditors.

The result was judgment for the OLC- the rights of a prize winner are NOT assignable, garnishable, or attachable, unless by a court order for payment of child support or to an estate. Because- it says so right in the statute. A court can otherwise determine the rightful prize winner/s (for example, multiple claimants in an office pool), but courts are not entitled to assign a winner’s rights to anyone else once the winner is determined. The creditors in this case happened to be lawyers, so of course no real harm was done.

Final Thoughts

What’s the lesson here? There isn’t one, but as a legal concept “the lottery” is an interesting foray into contract formation. Just remember- if you’re in an office pool, keep a record of your agreement and participants, and don’t tell off your boss before you get your prize money in hand. Also- think about hiring an accountant and a lawyer before you run off and buy that gold-plated jet ski. Good luck!

If you are like roughly 50% of the rest of Americans, then “winning the lottery” is a cornerstone of your retirement strategy. Read more here!

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Skee Ball, Inspiration and Winners on In the Know

Looking for all of the latest fun we’re cooking up for the month? Watch In the Know and get the scoop on everything from new instants and a chance to win your own home arcade! Watch the video for that and much more!

NEW! MyLotto Win Leads to First Pitch

You already know we have great prizes through our MyLotto Rewards program, and Saturday one of those prizes took Daniel Sifferlin and his family to Progressive Field for an unforgettable night. This prize didn’t just put them in the seats to watch the Indians play, they got to watch batting practice from the dugout and Daniel’s mother-in-law, Marie, who was celebrating her 94th birthday threw out the first pitch!

Daniel used his MyLotto Rewards points to enter the drawing for the Cleveland Indians VIP Box Seat Experience which included watching batting practice from the dugout, scoreboard greetings, promotional items, autographed items and the chance to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Daniel said when he found out he won a trip to the game, as luck would have it the game was also on Marie’s birthday. He said Marie has watched every Indians game on TV for more than 20 years and she knows all the players’ names. She’s truly a big fan, and he couldn’t think of a better person to give that first pitch opportunity to other than Marie.

Marie, along with her granddaughter and daughter, stood along the dugout during batting practice, and she did not go unnoticed. Her favorite player, Michael Brantley, stopped to chat along with several other members of the team. Marie loved every second!

As if that wasn’t enough, Marie’s family arranged to have her grandson flown in from California to surprise her. She was overwhelmed with joy. Her grandson and granddaughter escorted her onto the field to throw the ceremonial first pitch, and Marie didn’t disappoint. Wind up and all, this 94-year-old pitched like a pro with applause roaring from the stands!

To top it all off, the Tribe won with a hit by Marie’s favorite player to bring in the winning run.

Congratulations, Marie and Happy Birthday!

Byesville Clark Named Sept. 24 Retailer-of-the-Week

It has only been 3 short years since Selina Miller became the owner of Byesville Clark. In that short time its Ohio Lottery sales have grown and continue to grow at the store. The store’s commitment to growing its Ohio Lottery business is why they are this week’s Ohio Lottery Retailer-of-the-Week.

To help promote the Lottery, there is a designated play area with bet slips and winning numbers information. When new games come out the store has a separate set of cubes for new games only, and they are displayed front center for customers to see. Byesville Clark carries all instant ticket games and make it a priority to carry the most popular games for their customers.

The excellent customer service is a bonus to the store’s stellar operation. The employees cater to the needs and requests of customers. Their customers feel welcomed and excited when they come into the store.

To be a successful Lottery agent owner Selina Miller offers this advice; “Work with your Ohio Lottery Sales Representative to get the optimal sales mix. Promote the newest games and jackpots!”

Byesville Clark averages $6,900 in weekly sales for both instant and on-line games and carries 36 instant tickets over the counter.

Each week, the Ohio Lottery recognizes one outstanding retail partner who offers courteous service and sales enthusiasm. Retailer-of-the-Week is chosen based on recommendations from the store’s sales representative and regional sales office staff. Byesville Clark will be recognized on Cash Explosion® on Saturday, September 29.

Guernsey County residents can tune into Cash Explosion® on WTTE TV 28 or WSYX TV 6 in Columbus. The Cash Explosion show is carried on 10 stations across the state every Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Roosters Pickerington Named Sept. 17 Retailer-of-the-Week

When you enter Roosters Pickerington you can expect more than just great food. The fun-filled environment encourages customers to come, stay and play. This restaurant has mastered the art of making customers feel like family. Those qualities and more are why it is the Ohio Lottery Retailer-of-the-Week.

Most would think that it would be hard to create a family atmosphere in a restaurant as large as Roosters Pickerington, but that is not the case. A smile goes a long way at this location. The welcoming staff enjoy each other’s company, and most have been with the restaurant for many years. The customers recognize that, and it makes them feel welcomed and invited.

Winner posters provided by their Ohio Lottery Sales Representative are hung near the various monitors at this location. The restaurant owners have expanded the space. Adding more seating, two private party rooms, a carry-out room, and an additional outdoor patio, makes them the largest Roosters in the country. They have increased their sales by 40% from the previous year.

To be a successful Lottery retailer, general manager Steve Rheinfrank, offers this advice: “Be mindful of the equipment that everything is working before your business opens. Make sure your staff is knowledgeable on all Lottery games to answer questions and offer friendly service to your customers!”

Roosters averages $17,024 in weekly on-line sales.

Each week, the Ohio Lottery recognizes one outstanding retail partner who offers courteous service and sales enthusiasm. Retailer-of-the-Week is chosen based on recommendations from the store’s sales representative and regional sales office staff. Roosters will be recognized on Cash Explosion® on Saturday, September 22.

Franklin County residents can tune into Cash Explosion® on WTTE TV 28 or WSYX TV 6 in Columbus. The Cash Explosion show is carried on 10 stations across the state every Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Watch Out for Scammers!

Have you ever received a social media message claiming you won a prize? If you have, you’re not alone, and when it comes to social media, the internet and email, you have to be protective of your information.

Today we received a message from a player who had been solicited via email claiming that the Ohio Lottery offers grants. The email came from [email protected] That’s not an account representing the Ohio Lottery or the Cash Explosion Show.

Last week a customer called to let us know that a representative of the Consumer Protection Agency called him to inform him of a $450,000 Mega Millions sweepstakes prize he had won. He said the representative told him that there are so many scams that he’s calling winners so they know it’s real. Uh huh. The customer didn’t bite.

In recent weeks players have contacted us about messages they received on Instagram from someone claiming to be the Ohio Lottery. The messages said that the user had won a large cash prize. Sounds great, except the message was not from the Ohio Lottery.

As social media has grown, so have scams like these. Here’s what you should know about those messages.

*The Ohio Lottery will never ask you to send money in order to claim a prize.

*Misspellings, bad grammar and the word “sweepstakes” are dead giveaways that it’s a scam.

*The official Ohio Lottery Instagram is verified so look for the check mark in the blue circle.

*Never give personal information like bank account or social security numbers.

*If you’re unsure, call the Ohio Lottery at 1-800-686-4208.

*If you didn’t enter a drawing or buy a ticket, chances are you did not win.

We hope you follow these tips to stay safe and protect your money and your personal information.

Winner Wednesday

Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of Winner Wednesday! This week’s big winner stories are cash filled and exciting. Keep reading to see who has hit it big!

Christine Dickson of Galloway was a big winner this week! She won $102,405 on the EZPLAY® progressive game Twenty 20s.

Scott Bright of New Castle, PA won $20,000 on the $100 Million Money Explosion instant ticket.

Joe Dixon of Jackson won $10,000 on the $5,000,000 Multiplier Spectacular instant ticket.

William Bryant of Tiffin won $50,000 when he scratched the Max the Money instant ticket.

Lacey Crisco of Ashland was another $100 Million Money Explosion instant ticket winner. She won $10,000!

Up-to-date info from the Ohio Lottery's Office of Communications. ]]>