Retailers’ lottery lawsuit dismissed

The Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit by eastern New Mexico retailers against the New Mexico Lottery, and now the lottery is seeking attorneys’ fees for the cost of defending itself against the complaint.

State District Judge Nan G. Nash dismissed the lawsuit on Nov. 29 with prejudice, meaning it cannot be filed again. He signed the order last week.

The lawsuit was filed by Randy Stansell, owner of Stansell’s Thriftway Supermarket in Clovis; Kenneth Nutt, owner of KC Express stores in Clovis and Portales; and Chris Canning, an employee of Logan Super Stop in Logan. They were identified as frequent players of scratch-off games as well as retailers who sell tickets to customers.

The retailers had accused the New Mexico Lottery of misrepresenting scratch-off games to the public by advertising prizes, then pulling the games before all the money was awarded.

The retailers, in a class action lawsuit filed in late June, alleged the lottery had adopted a practice of prematurely pulling games statewide while substantial cash prizes were available. At the same time, they contended, the lottery was promoting the games and enticing people to buy tickets by posting top prizes still to be won.

Lottery chief executive officer Tom Romero said Monday the lottery filed a motion to recover $34,651 in attorneys’ fees as part of its obligation to maximize revenue for the scholarships that the lottery funds. No hearing has been scheduled on the motion.

If the motion is successful, the money recovered will be transferred to the lottery scholarship program, Romero said.

Since its inception 11 years ago, the New Mexico Lottery has issued hundreds of scratch-off games. In those games, people remove a covering from a ticket to determine if they’ve won an instant prize.

The lottery has funded higher education scholarships for more than 48,000 New Mexico since its inception in 1996, the lottery said.