How many people will blow $5, $10, or even $20 on lottery scratch-offs when the lucky bug bites?

You may think twice before buying that next ticket.

Many state lotteries are being criticized for selling lottery scratch-off tickets after the top prizes have been awarded.

Nearly half of the 42 states that have lotteries including Florida, New Jersey, Michigan, and Tennessee continue selling lottery tickets after the biggest prizes are gone.

These states contend that the practice is legal since this information is disclosed on lottery tickets and their websites. Plus other prizes are available.

But how many people are aware of this practice?

The most recent challenge to this practice comes from a professor suing Virginia for selling $20 million dollars worth of tickets a year that had no top prize available.

Washington and Lee University business professor, Scott Hoover, purchased a $5 ticket called “Beginner’s Luck” in Virginia, back in August 2007.

He later learned that the prize had been awarded back in July.

With the use of public records, Hoover calculated the state had sold $20 million each year for three years where no top prize was available. Hoover believes the state should compensate these players.

John Fishwick, Hoover’s lawyer, says “They were promising $75,000 prizes that weren’t there.”

The same practice has been done in New Jersey as well.

The “1,000,000 Explosion” game was New Jersey’s first $20 ticket and very popular according to lottery spokesman Dominick DeMarco.

The $20 scratch-off tickets for the “1,000,000 Explosion” game are still for sale, but the top prizes were awarded months ago. The best prize available is $10,000, but the game ends July 21.

California, New York, Massachusetts and other states end their scratch-off games when the top prizes are gone, thanks to unsuccessful, but bad publicity generating cases.

Attorney Rob Carey, who filed suits in California, Colorado, Arizona, and Washington, says the lawsuits “sure changed the way lotteries do business.”

Changing their business practices has occurred in Virginia thanks to professor Hoover’s suit.

Paula Otto, Virginia Lottery executive says the lottery as of July 2007 now ends the scratch-off games once the top prize is given away.

Sounds like some states are heading on the right track for their lottery.

But will you give in to that itch when the lucky bug strikes again?

For further information and updates please check out AOL News.

Tamika M. Murray blogs for PJ’s and A Movie, Stop and Stare Photos, and Blogcritics.

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