Houston, TX (Law Firm Newswire) February 11, 2015 - More than 400 Texas lottery players have joined a lawsuit alleging that Texas Lottery operator GTECH Corporation owes them millions in unpaid winnings.
The controversy began last fall, when players of the now-discontinued Fun 5’s scratch-off game began to complain that lottery redemption computers were rejecting some winning tickets. Despite mounting player complaints, GTECH and lottery officials allowed the Fun 5’s game to continue for nearly two months.
Two hundred and fifty players filed a lawsuit in December for $248 million in unpaid winnings. Now, attorneys for the plaintiffs have filed an amended petition, adding 419 players to the list of plaintiffs and raising the damages sought to $438 million. The lawsuit alleges that GTECH negligently programmed its computers to reject some winning tickets from the Fun 5’s scratch off game.
“GTECH could have fixed the problem as early as one week into the game, but the company did nothing for more than six weeks, while players continued to buy tickets in good faith,” remarked Richard LaGarde, an attorney for the plaintiffs in this case. “It is because of GTECH’s own actions that the number of plaintiffs in this case continues to grow.”
The dispute revolves around Game 5 on the Fun 5’s game ticket. The instructions on the ticket state, “Reveal a Money Bag symbol in the 5X BOX, win 5 times that PRIZE.” But GTECH computers did not award a prize to many players holding tickets with the symbol in the 5x box.
Officials claim that winning the money bag prize was dependent on having already won a prize from a tic-tac-toe game on the same ticket. But attorneys for the plaintiffs point out that the rules never state that a player had to win the tic-tac-toe game to be eligible for the money bag prize.
“Players participate in the lottery because they expect to receive the prizes that they are promised in the rules of the game,” said LaGarde. “GTECH programmed its computers to deny players their rightful winnings, and the company needs to take responsibility for that if anyone is to have any faith in the Texas Lottery in the future.”
The amended petition was filed in Travis County state district court on January 26, 2015. The case is Steele v. GTECH Corporations, case no. D-1-GN-14-005114.
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