Metro-East News

Lawsuit alleging rigged lottery moves from St. Clair to federal court


A class-action lawsuit alleging an Illinois lottery company defrauded players and businesses has moved from St. Clair County courts to federal court.

The lawsuit, filed in February in St. Clair County, accuses Northstar Lottery Group of manipulating the number of winning tickets available for purchase and discontinuing scratch-off games before large payouts, depriving customers from jackpots. The company misrepresented the actual chances of winning jackpots, the suit alleges, and violated contracts with ticket vendors, who would have earned commissions and bonuses from sales.

The removal from St. Clair County comes after Northstar Lottery’s attorney requested the case be moved to the U.S. District Court of Southern Illinois on the grounds that the company “is not a citizen of Illinois” and the amount of money in question exceeds $75,000. Northstar partners with IGT Global Solutions, a Delaware-based corporation, and Scientific Games International, also a Delaware corporation with a “principal place of business” in Alpharetta, Ga.

For now, the named plaintiffs are Raqqa Inc., which owns Fairview Lounge in Fairview Heights, Michael Cairo of Cook County, Jason Van Lente of Cook County and John Bean of St. Clair County. They’re asking that the case be certified as a class-action suit.

A Chicago Tribune investigation in December found that for the lottery’s 17 biggest scratch-off games beginning in 2011 and ending in 2015 under Northstar’s management, the lottery did not award more than 40 percent of the grand prizes designed into the games.