Most people know that the chances of striking it rich in the lottery are slim. However, the chance to win it big is enough to keep some Illinois residents buying scratch-off tickets every week. However, two lawsuits have recently been filed against the private manager of the Illinois Lottery after an investigation found the lottery never awarded many of the largest prizes in instant ticket games.
Three scratch-off players and a Fairview Heights lounge joined in a lawsuit against the Northstar Lottery Group. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege Northstar defrauded businesses that sold the scratch-off tickets by manipulating the number of winning tickets available, the prizes available, and the odds of winning.
Multiple scratch-off games offered large prizes, without awarding any of the large grand prizes to players. The Good Life scratchers, priced at $30 each, offered the possibility of winning two $46 million grand prizes, with none awarded. Birthday Surprise and another version of The Good Life together offered another 5 large grand prizes, with none awarded.
An investigation by the Chicago Tribune in December of last year found that the Illinois Lottery did not award 40% of the grand prizes they claimed were available. The Illinois Lottery would collect millions of unsold tickets to the instant games before the grand prize tickets were awarded. According to the report, the win rate for top prizes in Illinois was much lower than other states.
The Illinois Lottery has been managed by Northstar Lottery Group since 2011. Illinois was the first state to turn over the management of their state lottery operations to a private company. After delivering lower than expected revenues to the state, Illinois has been looking for someone else to take over the day-to-day management of the lottery.
According to International Game Technology, which controls Northstar, the findings of the investigation were misleading. “Northstar consistently and unwaveringly made decisions for the benefit of the players and the Illinois Lottery and not its suppliers IGT or Scientific Games," the company wrote in a statement to the Tribune.
In the years before Northstar took over the Illinois Lottery, the award rate for grand prizes was 87.5%. Florida and Ohio had a grand prize award rate of 100%. After Northstar took over, the award rate dropped to less than 60%.
The lawsuit that was filed in St. Clair County Court has now been moved to the U.S. District Court of Southern Illinois by the attorney for Northstar Lottery Group because the company is based in another state and the amount at stake is enough to give the federal court jurisdiction.
Now another lawsuit has also been filed. In a lawsuit filed in Cook County court last week, two longtime scratch-off ticket players are seeking damages against Northstar based on similar accusations as the above lawsuit. Both lawsuits are seeking class-action status.
If you or a family member are seeking representation related to a medical error, employment discrimination, or family law issue, it is important to speak to an experienced Illinois attorney who will fight for you. At Benassi & Benassi, we are committed to getting our clients and their families the justice they deserve.