Indiana residents lose lottery prizes as games close

The private company that’s taken over the Hoosier Lottery’s operation has ended some of the lottery’s games before all the big-money prizes could be won.

Hoosier Lottery players have lost out on $28.7 million worth of high-dollar scratch-off prizes since IGT Indiana signed a state contract in 2012 to run nearly all of the operations of the Hoosier Lottery, The Indianapolis Star reported .

More than half of Indiana’s scratch-off lottery tickets worth more than $1 million have gone unclaimed in the last five years. The lottery previously had a 10 percent rate of not awarding high-dollar scratch-off prizes.

The rate of unclaimed prizes drops to 34 percent when taking into account second-change drawings, lottery officials said.

The decision to end games is based on sales performance and player demand, not on the number of top prizes that have been claimed, lottery officials said.

“As long as a game is open, the overall odds of winning a prize remain the same,” the Hoosier Lottery said in a statement. “Our game closing statement is printed on the back of our tickets along with odds statement(s). Additionally players can see how many top prizes are remaining on every open game on the lottery website as well as game rules for each game.”

Players should be concerned about the large number of unclaimed prizes, said John Kindt, who teaches economics at the University of Illinois.

“I think the public should be suspicious of anything the lottery is doing when there are so many unclaimed prizes and those administrating the lottery aren’t suffering at all even though they haven’t performed up to satisfaction,” Kindt said.

The lottery brought in about $293 million in revenue last year. The contract’s original revenue goal was $410 million, but it was later rewritten to just $290 after IGT repeatedly fell short of the goal.