Upset with lottery, local man taking cause to court

ALPENA – An Alpena man who has filed a small claims case against the Michigan Lottery picketed Alpena City Hall Friday when Rep. Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle, held office hours there.

Jake Johnson said he filed the claim after buying a Club Keno ticket for 60 draws, believing he would get 12 bonus draws as part of a promotion. When he didn’t, he contacted the lottery office and asked for a $24 credit. Instead, they informed him he needed to buy the ticket in increments of five to get the bonus drawings. When he later bought tickets for 10 and 20 draws, this time receiving the bonus draws, he contacted them again. They told him to send in his ticket so they could assist him.

In late May, Johnson sent the lottery commissioner a letter requesting information about the state lottery. The request asks numerous questions, from whether the lottery is run by a private company, whether Club Keno winning numbers are generated in real time, to whether Michigan lottery tickets are made in-state.

Prior to this, Johnson filed the claim and, when he became frustrated at the delays with the case, he contacted Pettalia and asked him if he agreed with the state spending so much money to defend a $24 case. He initially believed Pettalia told him that he thought it was a ridiculous waste of money, but said it was out of his control.

“If our lawmakers don’t control frivolous spending, who does it fall on?” he said.

Pettalia disputed this when Johnson spoke with him Friday, pointing out he strives every day to fight wasteful government bureaucracy. When Johnson asked him to put some kind of pressure on the lottery commissioner to answer his letter, Pettalia pointed out the letter has only been out for five business days.

Now, Johnson will wait until June 21 to hear some response from the lottery commissioner, and will let Pettalia know how his court hearing in Rogers City on June 18 goes. Johnson also will try to find out just how much the state has spent to fight the case, and agreed to take down his claim that Pettalia claimed he had no control over the Michigan Lottery’s spending in this case.

Pettalia admitted that he’s been busy with the state budget and road funding proposals, and hasn’t had much time to look into Johnson’s situation. He’s also not a lottery player, so he doesn’t understand the structure of the game. But he did agree that Johnson should’ve been treated better when dealing with state lottery employees; Johnson claims that he was treated poorly.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at