ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Would you buy a lottery ticket if you knew you couldn’t win the top prize? If you play scratch-off tickets from the Florida Lottery, you might be doing just that.
10News found tickets being sold in the Tampa Bay area on games for which all the top prizes had already been claimed, according to the Florida Lottery website.
The Florida Lottery lists all the remaining top prizes for all its scratch-off games online, but not everyone who plays scratch-off games checks the site.
“I probably should start looking into it a little bit more,” said Darryl Dempsey as he played his scratch-off game of choice. “A friend of mine just the other night, we were at the bowling alley bowling and he pulled it up and said, ‘Hey, there’s three of the six left for the $10,000 A Week For Life,’ so that’s why I like that one.”
“People still think, ‘Maybe I’ve got a chance to win this or that,' and not knowing … they’re playing it for no reason because they’re not going to win that prize. It’s not there,” added Fred Kittredge.
Kittredge says he does check the state website to see which prizes have been claimed and makes his decisions on which games to play based off the odds.
“I go in and if it says there are four top prizes or maybe there’s 20,000 of the $100, or whatever, that’s what I go for,” said Kittredge. “I told a guy the other day, I said, ‘I wouldn’t even waste my money on that ticket because there’s no winners on it.' Just look at your phone, it tells you right on there.”
But some consumer advocates say it’s misleading to continue selling tickets that have no top prizes remaining.
“It says right on the ticket ‘$10 Million.' Who isn’t going to think the $10 million really isn’t there?”, said Bill Newton, deputy director of the Florida Consumer Action Network. “That’s unethical. That’s making someone think that the $10 million is there to be won for your $10 investment, but it isn’t.”
“I think the lottery should put more columns of information, they should put the current odds for the game given the number of winners that are left. It wouldn’t be that hard for them to figure that out and post that, at least weekly,” added Newton. “They have very sophisticated computers doing this, it would be possible to post these odds or update them once a week or once a day so you would have an idea of what you are actually getting.”
Officials with the Florida Lottery confirmed to 10News that games are phased out in bunches four times per year in an effort to allow time for the public to be notified and to give retailers time to pull expired games off of shelves.
In a statement emailed to 10News, the Florida Lottery said:
“The Florida Lottery encourages players to use the ‘Remaining Top Prizes’ page on our website as a reference. However, it’s important to note that the webpage does not list all of the remaining prizes—only the top prizes. Every ticket purchased always has a chance to be a winner.”
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