A judge yesterday dismissed a Long Beach man’s claims that the state of California and the Lottery Commission wrongfully denied him a $5 million prize after his 16-year-old son bought a winning Scratchers ticket at a service station in 2016.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Terry Green said the law is clear that only adults can buy lottery tickets, but he credited lawyers for plaintiff Ward Thomas for presenting a compelling explanation of their client’s position.
“If these were the Academy Awards, the plaintiff would get the award for the most creative argument in a losing cause,” Green said. “But no, these laws exist to protect minors from gambling.”
However, the judge said that the last time he laughed at a particular argument, the case went to the 2nd District Court of Appeal and he was reversed.
Thomas’ attorney, Molly McKibben, declined to comment on the ruling or whether Thomas plans to appeal. Deputy Attorney General James Waian also said he had no comment.
McKibben argued in court that Thomas’ son acted as an “agent” of his father in making the purchase, but Waian told the judge Thomas could not transfer his age eligibility to his son.
Thomas’ lawsuit, filed in July 2017, alleged failure by the state and the Lottery Commission to discharge a mandatory duty. Thomas says his son obtained five Scratchers tickets at a Mobil gas station on Bellflower Boulevard in Long Beach in 2016 by exchanging other winning tickets. One of the five was a winning ticket with a $5 million prize, the suit stated.
Thomas validated the ticket at a 7-Eleven store in Long Beach that same day and then validated it again the next day at the lottery office in Santa Ana, the suit stated.
However, in December 2016, the Lottery Commission told Thomas that his award was being denied because his son was a minor and therefore was not legally able to play the lottery, the suit stated.
No one at the gas station told Thomas’ son that he was too young to buy a lottery ticket, the suit stated.
The suit further alleged the commission failed to enforce its own rules in the operation of the lottery and that the commission engaged in false advertising by not publicizing that lottery ticket buyers had to be at least 18 years old.