WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a Senate hearing designed to present horror stories about sweepstakes promotions, a Florida man began sobbing Monday as he testified about spending money he had saved to send his daughter to law school.
Eustace A. Hall, of Brandon, Fla., became so emotional that the daughter, Angela, had to finish reading his statement. Despite the financial problems encountered by her father, she completed her studies and is now an attorney.Hall was among six witnesses who lashed out at sweepstakes companies at a hearing of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The chairman, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has sponsored legislation that would impose the first national regulation of sweepstakes mailings and levy hefty fines for deceptive practices. The legislation also would prevent companies from telling recipients they won something when they haven't and from using the smallest print to list the almost insurmountable odds of winning a major prize.
"I estimate I have spent $15,000 to $20,000 from 1992 to the present on sweepstake purchases," Hall's statement, read by his daughter, said. "They always led me to believe that I had to purchase products to win. After all the time and money I spent, I have nothing to show for it."
Before a hushed hearing room filled with lobbyists and representatives of the major sweepstakes companies, Hall, with a box of tissues in front of him, broke down after telling the hearing that he entered the contests to provide his daughter "with more financial assistance."
The sweepstakes industry representatives, who have been accused by numerous state attorneys general of preying on the elderly, will testify Tuesday. The companies have not yet taken a position on the legislation but have hired some of Washington's major lobbying firms to help shape the legislation.