|Updated: 4/28/2012 9:44 am
||Published: 4/27/2012 4:57 pm
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A man sued the Arkansas lottery Friday, claiming that scratch-off game contains a flaw that workers at a retail store used to identify winning tickets.
The lawsuit was filed by Rick Tomboli, who is seeking class-action status, because any number of other lottery players could have been stuck with losing tickets, according to the suit, which was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court. Tomboli is represented by state Rep. John Walker of Little Rock, a prominent civil rights lawyer.
The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery issued a statement saying that it referred the matter to Little Rock police, as tampering with lottery tickets is a felony.
The lawsuit alleges that Tomboli bought a $20 Arkansas Millionaires Club ticket "at the unusual urging of the retailer." The ticket was a loser, and Tomboli bought a second ticket, which was a $20 winner, essentially refunding its face value.
Tomboli then noticed both tickets "had an unusual small pinprick on a covered section of the ticket called 'Bonus $50,' " the suit said. The lawsuit, which doesn't identify the retailer, claims the workers could tell whether the tickets would pay the bonus by means of the pinprick. Tomboli went back in the store and asked to see the next few tickets in the case, the suit said, all of which allegedly had similar pinpricks.
After a co-worker contacted the lottery security office for Tomboli, Security Director Lance Huey visited with Tomboli, the suit says. Huey acknowledged the tickets had been tampered with, and gave Tomboli "a bizarre assortment of lottery merchandise" that included tote bags, shirts, sunglasses and hats, according to the suit. Huey also allegedly told Tomboli that someone from the store would contact him to discuss compensating him.
The suit says Huey told Tomboli that the store workers would be fired and that the game would be pulled because of a manufacturing flaw. But Tomboli returned to the store and found one of the workers still behind the counter and the game still in the case. Huey then allegedly told Tomboli the lottery would lose money by pulling the game until the tickets could be reprinted.
The lottery's statement said three workers have been fired from the business.
"It will be readily apparent to a player if anyone has attempted to determine the value without fully scratching a ticket. In fact, the tampering was reported by a player," said the lottery statement, which didn't address whether the game would be withdrawn.
Walker said he doesn't know the extent of any tampering and declined to say if other ticket buyers had contacted him.
"I don't have the slightest idea how pervasive it was. I do know that if was anywhere, it had the potential of being everywhere," Walker said. "It wasn't something that was supposed to happen."
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Comment from the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery:
The Arkansas Lottery Commission doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
The matter alleged was investigated by Lottery Security on Tuesday. Soon afterward, management at the retail location informed us that three individuals had lost their jobs. The Lottery placed the issue in the hands of the Little Rock Police Department Financial Crimes unit.
It will be readily apparent to a player if anyone has attempted to determine the value without fully scratching a ticket. In fact, the tampering was reported by a player.
Tampering with or altering a lottery ticket is a felony in Arkansas, and we take each instance of lottery crime very seriously. All steps will continue to be taken to ensure and protect the integrity of all ALC games.