NCAA And TM Face Class Action

The National Collegiate Athletic Association and Ticketmaster could be headed for court following a recent class-action filing that claims the two companies violated racketeering laws by operating illegal ticket lotteries.

According to the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on behalf of plaintiff Tom George and other class members, the lotteries the NCAA and Ticketmaster have offered for tickets to various college tournament games have increased revenues for the organizations at the expense of class members.

"The NCAA and Ticketmaster have come up with a scheme that would make a Vegas bookie blush," attorney Rob Carey said in a statement. "We will show that this NCAA practice has illegally taken millions of dollars out of consumers’ pockets."

For example, to be eligible for tickets to the NCAA Division I basketball tournament or the Final Four, consumers are asked to participate in lotteries that require the submission of entry fees (between $6 and $10), plus the full ticket prices for each of up to 10 entries, the suit said.

If the consumer wins a pair of tickets in the lottery, the tickets are overnighted; if not, the tickets price is refunded but the entry fee is not.

"The rub is that if one of your entries is selected, your other nine are null and void, but the other nine entry fees go right into the pockets of the NCAA and Ticketmaster," Carey said.

The suit also alleges the NCAA and TM have not only profited from the entry fees, but from the full ticket prices as well, citing cases in which the organizations held fans’ funds from losing lottery bids for months before offering refunds.

Because the NCAA and TM are not state agencies or licensed to run lotteries, they violated California, Indiana and federal laws by operating an illegal lottery enterprise and soliciting consumers to participate in it, according to the filing.

"We plan to show that the defendants created a scheme that lines their own pockets by forcing fans to engage in illegal gambling to try to get game tickets," Carey said. "Gambling can be extremely lucrative for the defendants when you have hundreds of thousands of fans willing to give away $100 or more to win a chance to buy at most two of only 5,000 tickets."

The filing aims to represent fans that submitted applications and paid fees to enter drawings to purchase tickets to NCAA championship tournaments from 1998 to the present.

The class is seeking an injunction to prevent the NCAA and TM from continuing to offer the ticket lotteries, as well as actual damages, the costs of bringing the suit, attorneys’ fees and punitive damages.