Company may seek expansion of lottery terminals in Maryland

June 23, 1991|By C. Fraser Smith

With the same kinds of demographic and consumer information used by sellers of fast food and yuppie clothing, GTECH will assess Maryland's lottery participation -- ZIP code by ZIP code.

Guy B. Snowden, co-chairman of GTECH, says the state's lottery business can grow without saturating the inner city of Baltimore, where many assume the lottery is played most heavily.

GTECH says lotteries are played most actively by the middle class and lower middle class.

Mr. Snowden said his company might eventually recommend expanding the number of terminals in Maryland beyond the 2,400 called for in its current contract. Another GTECH official said in a letter to Delegate Sheila E. Hixson, D-Montgomery, that as many as 5,000 terminals might operate in the state someday, up from the current 1,800.

Mr. Snowden said the company's approach would be firm but reserved.

"I don't think it ought to be hawked. It shouldn't be on Saturday morning TV, for example [because of the programming for children]. And no car-dealer-type ads," he said.

But the company plans to find out where the players are and provide easy access to their games. "If you don't understand why someone would lay down a dollar, you don't belong in this business," says Ellen Donohue, the company's marketing director.

In the East, she says, there is something of a "numbers culture," a propensity toward lotteries. People develop a personal relationship with the numbers they play. In the Midwest and West, where the numbers mentality is less distinct, lottery games have been more sports-oriented, she says.

Such considerations are carefully assessed by the company's marketing department with a computer program called GMARK -- short for games marketing. (GTECH is short for gaming technology.)

Studies of shopping frequency, daytime shopping populations in given areas, the size of jackpots and odds, and even the frequency with which people watch professional football are cross-matched and analyzed to determine where the growth areas are.

As its business grew, Ms. Donohue says, the company was surprised to find that many states were in the horse-and-buggy era on such matters.

"There was resistance to hard data. Commissions thought they got a better 'feel' about placing terminals from their agents on the street," she says. GTECH will try to convince officials in Maryland that its science is superior to the old approach.

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