Italian man sues lottery for always losing – and wins!


An Italian man from the southern province of Salerno has successfully sued the operators of Gratta e Vinci, the country’s instant-win scratchcard lottery.

After playing Gratta e Vinci (“Scratch and Win”) 225 times within a year, the man decided he might have a better chance of recouping his winnings through legal means than through continued playing. He took the state-licenced operator Lotterie Nazionali S.R.L. to a court in Vallo della Lucania and won his case. A judge instructed the defendants to pay €3,000 in compensation for his expenses.

No health warning

The ruling appears to have hinged on Italian health regulations rather than the country’s gambling laws. A 2012 decree requires any addictive substance, such as alcohol or cigarettes, to come with a health warning. The plaintiff argued (and won) that the Gratta e Vinci cards counted as an addictive substance and should have come with a similar warning and data revealing the actual odds of winning.

Although the gambler’s luck never came through with the scratchcards, Lady Luck was certainly smiling on him in court. He may not have won the millions he had been hoping for, but breaking even on a year’s play is not a bad result either. Who knows, he might be feeling lucky enough to play the Italian SuperEnalotto now!

Legal jackpot

Italian justice comes under regular fire in the country’s media, and this ruling was no exception.

Writing in Italy’s leading broadsheet, La Stampa, Massimo Gramellini wrote, “The only warning that should be printed on the scratchcards is that the odds of winning are significantly lower than those of finding a judge willing to be duped, thereby triggering a wave of appeals that, if successful, would create such a huge hole in the public accounts that it will force the government to retaliate against the other class of gamblers who never win: the few taxpayers who actually pay taxes.”


But it appears Gramellini may be correct. Already the Salerno ruling has encouraged similar suits to be lodged in municipal courts in Nocera Inferiore, Mercato San Severino and Agropoli.

Will the popular lottery games Gratta e Vinci or SuperEnalotto survive? Whatever their eventual fate, the Italian lottery games won’t face any immediate execution. Italian justice may be quirky, but it cannot be accused of being overly hasty. A final resolution of the issue will certainly be years and years away.

Photo courtesy of Claudio Cicali using license CC2.0.