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French Lottery Funny Business?

Last Updated: Thursday 8th June 2006, 13:39 pm

The French Lottery, La Française Des Jeux, recently hit the headlines after it was alleged that it offered a player a total of €450,000 to prevent him from taking them to court over misleading claims about their scratch cards. According to documents in the possession of La Monde newspaper, a letter sent to Robert Riblet from a lottery lawyer offered an initial sum of €300,000, with €150,000 extra to be paid later to "compensate him for the work and cost of the inquiries generated by his research".

What research is this referring to? Well, Mr Riblet spent a considerable amount of time and money buying 400 batches of scratch cards in order to try and prove his belief that they were not being distributed randomly, as stated in promotional advertisements and materials. Instead, Riblet maintained that the lottery was distributing scratch cards according to a controlled system which ensured that big wins were evenly spaced.

According to Riblet, the French lottery is operating, "a system designed to ensure a regular flow of payouts rather than a sudden rush in one city followed by a long quiet period. Card addicts who know the game well increase their chances by never picking cards from a batch that has already had a big win. It is a veritable fraud."

La Française Des Jeux rejected most of the claims that Mr Riblet made following his bulk-buying research, but did admit that scratch cards were distributed in a "predominantly random" fashion, and not a genuinely random way. Officials said that this was done to ensure "equity between players". However, the French lottery rejected the idea that they were making any misleading statements and highlighted the fact that, under French law, "the intervention of chance can be total or preponderant".

However events unfold from here, the offer to pay Mr Riblet a total of €450,000 for his efforts has ensured that they will be watched very closely by the world's media.

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