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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!

10 Best Ohio Lottery Scratch Offs This Month!

How did you pick your last Ohio Lottery scratch off ticket? Did you go for that flashy new game or was a certain ticket calling your name?

However you picked it, chances are you wasted your money. Sorry. It’s not your fault. No one told you there was a better way.

What if you knew which scratchers had the best odds of winning?

Wouldn’t that be amazing? You wouldn’t be guessing which game to play. You’d have an advantage. Your very own lotto edge.

Keep reading because your luck is about to change.

Ohio Lottery Scratch Off Odds

Ohio Lottery scratch off tickets vary from one game to the next. Not just the catchy names or ticket price either.

Each scratcher has its own odds of winning. Those odds vary from game to game and even between similar prizes. No two instant games are the same.

Knowing these odds can give you an advantage!

Wouldn’t you want to buy games that give you the best chance of winning? Let the sucker behind you in line waste his money.

About Overall Odds

The simplest way to compare Ohio Lotto scratch off odds is using the “overall odds”.

The overall odds of winning are the odds of winning ANY prize in a scratch off game.

The overall odds remain the same throughout the life of a game and are typically printed on the back of a scratch ticket.

If you want to know the best chances to win anything on your scratch off, the overall odds are the way to go.

The overall odds are available from the OH Lottery website. If you had spare time, you could collect the overall odds on each game. Create yourself a ranked list.

Just make sure to update your list as new games come out. Let’s be real. Nobody has time for that.

Fortunately, we do the hard work for you. At least for the top 10 best OH instant games!

Keep scrolling for the Top 10 List of Ohio Lottery scratch off games with best overall odds of winning this month.

STOP wasting money! See the FREE list of Ohio Lottery Scratch Offs with the Best Odds of Winning! Get an edge – a Lotto Edge ]]>