A three-judge panel from the Austin Court of Appeals ruled today that GTECH is not immune from suit for fraud. GTECH, which now does business as IGT, is the operator of the Texas Lottery. It has been sued by more than 1,000 lottery players who allege that GTECH knowingly used misleading instructions on the Fun 5’s scratch-off lottery tickets.
The language used by GTECH misled the lottery players to believe that if their Fun 5’s ticket revealed a Money Bag symbol, they would win five times the prize in the prize box.
Their lawsuit revealed that the Money Bag symbol originally appeared only on winning tickets. The TLC requested a change to the parameters of the game so the Money Bag symbol would appear on both winning and non-winning tickets. GTECH made that change and then conducted an “internal review” of the existing instructions to see if they needed to be changed. GTECH made the decision that it would not change the instructions to make it clear that a Money Bag symbol would not be an automatic winner in every case.
Attorneys for GTECH claimed that GTECH was merely carrying out the TLC’s instructions to change the game’s parameters. GTECH asked the trial court to grant it immunity from suit because it was just following orders from the TLC.
Attorneys for the lottery players argued that GTECH is not entitled to immunity because it used “independent discretion” as an expert designer of scratch-off tickets. GTECH made the decision that it would not change the instructions to disclose to players that some tickets with a Money Bag symbol would be non-winners and some would be winners. Instead, GTECH left the instructions as they were originally worded when 100% of tickets with a Money Bag were winning tickets
The Austin trial court judge, Amy Clark Meachum, refused to grant GTECH immunity from suit. The Austin Court of Appeals agreed with her and issued a 61-page opinion today that explained why GTECH is not entitled to immunity from suit.
When contacted by the LPAT, an attorney for the lottery players confirmed that it is likely that GTECH will ask the Texas Supreme Court to review the Austin appeals court’s decision.
LPAT congratulates the Fun 5’s players on their court victory. We hope the Texas Supreme Court will agree with us that nobody is above the law. Lottery players in Texas need to know that our lottery operator cannot mislead us and get immunity from suit from the courts.
The three judges from the Austin appeals court who ruled against GTECH and in favor of the lottery players were Judges Bob Pemberton, David Puryear, and Scott Field. Learn more about their ruling by reading the Court of Appeals’ opinion.