Local News

Are scratch off lottery tickets misleading?

Posted July 11, 2008 4:53 p.m. EDT
Updated July 11, 2008 6:56 p.m. EDT

— The odds are long, but scratch off lottery players dream of winning the top prize. But what happens if the top prize for that ticket has already been won?

Rob Schofield, of the government watchdog group N.C. Policy Watch, said these scratch off games are inherently misleading.

“It’s kind of sad and poignant that people are scratching these things off in the corner of a convenience store when they literally have no chance of winning that prize they think they're trying to get,” Schofield said.

The issue has prompted lawsuits in other states, including Virginia. North Carolina lottery officials are aware of the controversy and say they are moving ahead cautiously.

“It’s tough for a lottery to figure out what is the best way to do this,” state Lottery Executive Director Tom Shaheen said.

Shaheen said controversy in other states has prompted North Carolina to gradually pull scratch offs when the big prizes sell out. The lottery's website now lists individual games, the remaining number of top prizes and whether the tickets are being phased out.

When the lottery decides to pull a game because the top prizes are gone, it can take weeks to get all of those tickets picked up.

“If the belief is that every single player is playing to win the top prize, they should pick them up, personally, but I don't believe that they are. I believe that they're playing to win something,” Shaheen said.

Joan Davis said she plays to win her money back and maybe a little extra.

Lottery leaders stress players should play for fun and dreams, not for getting rich.