INDIANAPOLIS -- The Hoosier Lottery has told its retailers to stop selling scratch-off tickets for games in which the top prizes already have been won, a report Saturday said.
The lottery sent a message to retailers late last week telling them to remove three games from circulation: $20 Solid Gold, $5 Monthly Money and $2 Heads or Tails, The Indianapolis Star reported.
Solid Gold's final million-dollar prize was claimed May 28, but tickets continued to be sold. Top prizes in the other two games were awarded within the past three weeks.
The Star had reported earlier this month that tickets for some scratch-off games were being sold for as long as 45 days after all the top prizes had been claimed.
Lottery officials said the problem was that it took them that long to come in and pull all the tickets from stores.
However, in a message to retailers Thursday, the Hoosier Lottery told retailers to remove tickets without top prizes and replace them with similarly priced tickets.
Samuel Jackson, manager of a Speedway convenience store in Indianapolis, said he didn't understand why stores couldn't have pulled the tickets immediately in the first place.
"They made the statement that they don't have the technology to pull the games, yet they can sit there and send a notice and have games pulled, and it takes a matter of minutes," he said.
Occasional scratch-off player Dave Baxter of Greenwood said he will feel better about playing the games in which he knows the top prize remains available.
"I don't even buy the ticket if they don't have any top prizes left," Baxter said.
Robert Carey, a Phoenix attorney who has sued four state lotteries over the unavailability of top prizes, said the policy change was overdue.
"If they (the Hoosier Lottery) were honoring the responsibilities they were provided, they wouldn't have let this happen in the first place," Carey said. "They shouldn't have needed a lawsuit (in Virginia) and media attention. They should have thought of it on their own."
State lotteries across the country have been criticized recently over the practice. In June, a business professor sued the Virginia State Lottery for $85 million, claiming he and others had been defrauded because they had no chance to win a top prize.
In addition to lottery retailers, more than 4,000 vending machines carry the scratch-off tickets across Indiana, lottery spokesman Andrew Reed said.
The lottery has added red "game closing" messages to the three games without top prizes on its Web site, www.in.gov/hoosierlottery. The site also lists the prizes remaining in each game.