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Texas Lottery Ending "Fun 5's" Scratch Offs

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AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) - The Texas Lottery has announced plans to end the Fun 5's scratch-off game, which launched less than two months ago.

The $5 lottery tickets averaged more than $3 million in weekly sales, according to the Texas Lottery.  But there are hundreds of complaints from players who think the tickets are deceptive.

The players thought they were winners and were disappointed to learn the tickets were losers when they took them in for redemption, according to Lotto Report, a lottery watchdog website run by Dawn Nettles.

"It's about time.  The liability the state is facing is gigantic, colossal.  The Texas Lottery should have shut the game down the first week," said Nettles, who has been watching the Texas Lottery for nearly two decades.

The Fun 5's scratch-offs were started on September 1 and complaints started pouring in almost immediately.  Nettles set up a webpage dedicated to explaining the game and the discrepancy one week after the game launched.

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The problem, Nettles said, is with Game 5 on the ticket.  The ticket reads, "Reveal three "5" symbols in any one row, column or diagonal, win prize in prize box.  Reveal a "Money Bag" in the 5X box, win 5 times that prize."

Nettles claims based on that wording, tickets with a money bag should be winners, even if they don't match "5" symbols in a row, column or diagonally.  However, only tickets meeting both conditions have been determined winners by the Texas Lottery, Nettles said.

(credit: Lotto Report)
(credit: Lotto Report)

Last week, Nettles filed a petition against the Texas Lottery last week asking for permission to depose Texas Lottery Commission and GTech Corporation.  Nettles' lawyer, Manfred Sternberg, says this would be first step toward a lawsuit.  Sternberg is representing 300 clients across the state of Texas who claim to have winning tickets and says as many as a thousand players have complained about the game.

"They have a duty to the citizens of the state to make sure the games are fair," he said.  "We intend to pursue the Texas Lottery Commission and its vendors to make good" for those who played this game.  Sternberg says 75% of the Texas Lottery Commissions revenues come from scratch off games.

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Nettles says she has several tickets that she claims are winners and she's keeping them.  "I have every intention of collecting my money," she said.

Read the Texas Lottery's full statement below:

"The Texas Lottery is initiating game closure procedures for the Fun 5's scratch-off game. Averaging more than $3 million in weekly sales since the launch of the game on September 1, the highly successful Fun 5's game is a top selling $5 game over this period of time and a favorite of many lottery players around the state. However, the agency has received feedback from some players expressing confusion regarding certain aspects of this popular game. Additionally, a few opportunistic individuals appear to be exploiting the situation.

Though the Fun 5's game is generating significant revenue for the Foundation School Fund, it is our goal for every lottery player to have a positive experience when playing lottery games, and we take our responsibility in creating games that are fun, entertaining, and clear to understand for our players very seriously.  For this reason, we have made the determination to close this game.

Expedited actions will be taken by the Texas Lottery to remove this game from sale.  The game will be called on October 21, 2014, beginning the 45-day call period.  The official end of game date will be December 5, 2014.  Players that purchase winning tickets for the game will be able to claim prizes until June 3, 2015. "


(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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