The Texas Lottery Commission Wednesday denied claims it cheated players out of prize money with confusing instructions on a popular scratch-off ticket.
The “Fun 5’s” card promises $50 million in prize money with five games on each $5 ticket.
Some players thought they won big jackpots in game 5 by reading the last sentence of instructions which seems to stand alone.
It says, “Reveal a Money Bag symbol in the 5X BOX, win 5 times that PRIZE.”
Dawn Nettles studies Texas Lottery games for her Garland based website, LottoReport.com.
Nettles said more than 200 players have contacted her with tickets that appear to be winners, some for as much as $500,000.
“And these players, when they scratch that off and they see that, they get real excited,” Nettles said.
But players have found that Lottery machines record the tickets as losers.
In the small town of Italy, one couple thought they got the big prize.
“I scratched off the bottom part, and that’s where it said 5x and the prize amount of $100,000, and I could not believe my eyes,” Geraldine Steele said.
Steele read the directions on the bottom of the scratch off, as did her husband, James.
When both looked at their ticket, they thought they had won $500,000.
“You think about all the things you can do with $500,000,” said James Steele.
When the Steeles scanned their ticket, the machine told them it was a dud.
“We thought the machine was broke,” said James Steele.
The couple contacted Nettles for answers.
Lottery Commission spokesperson Kelly Cripe said by e-mail that a sentence of instructions before the final one on the card includes other requirements which must also be fulfilled in order to win the multiplier promised in the last sentence.
The email said multiple steps for large jackpots are common in Texas lottery games.
“We often have various multiplier features and prize amounts on the face of a ticket, not only to add variety to the game, but also as a security measure.
This is done so that no one can determine whether or not a ticket is a winner without scratching the entire ticket.
We want to ensure that all players have a fun and enjoyable experience when participating in lottery games.
We encourage players with questions regarding our games to contact our Customer Service Department at 1-800-375-6886 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance with their questions.”
The Steele family isn’t giving up that easily. They’ve enlisted the help of an attorney, and they plan to send a certified letter to the commission. They want the directions rewritten and their ticket honored.
Dawn Nettles said other scratch-off games include clear language if multiple sentences of instructions are required for a prize, and the Fun 5’s card does not.
“I suggested that they needed to pull these tickets. They needed pay the people, honor the prizes and move on, lump their losses and move on. Now that it’s gone this long, I want my legislator to tell me why he’s allowing the Texas Lottery to do this,” Nettles said.
She claims there are other problems with the Fun 5’s game, too.
Nettles posted on her website a complaint letter she sent to the Travis County District Attorney accusing the Austin-based Lottery Commission of deceptive trade practices.
She urged other lottery players to do the same.