Lottery agency hopes new game is a winner

October 07, 1991|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,Evening Sun Staff

Maryland's Tuesday night Winners Take All lottery game is being retired this week after 17 months of play. It is being replaced by a $50,000-prize game that planners hope will earn the state more money.

The new game, dubbed "Match 5," will offer players a chance at a $50,000 jackpot for matching each of five numbers between 1 and 39. Matching four or three numbers will yield prizes of $400 and $15 respectively.

Drawings for the new game will be held on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. They'll start this Thursday evening, using new, French-built drawing machines. The last Winners Take All drawing was held last Tuesday.

"I wouldn't say [Winners Take All] was a disappointment," lottery spokesman Carroll H. Hynson Jr. said. "Let's just say that because of the economy it really didn't always hit the top sales projections we wanted."

Match 5 "will be much more appealing, and generate more appealing sales as far as the Lottery Agency is concerned," he said.

Sales of the Winners Take All game topped $22 million last year. Sales of the new Match 5 game have been projected at $30 million for the nine months ending next June.

When the Winners Take All game was launched on May 8, 1990, lottery officials ballyhooed it as a chance for players to try for large, lump-sum jackpots at odds better than the 1-in-7 million odds offered by the weekly, multimillion-dollar Lotto game, which pays off in 20 annual installments.

Hynson said at that time the Winners Take All jackpots were expected to range from $200,000 to $300,000, depending on sales, at odds of 1 in 811,000.

But after the game's first year, a total of 30 players had won top-tier jackpots averaging only $152,000. The prizes for matching four or five numbers were also smaller than projected because of slower sales.

The new Match 5 game is a still more ambitious attempt to offer players a better shot at winning smaller -- but still considerable -- sums of money.

The odds of winning the $50,000 top Match 5 prize will be 1 in 575,000, Hynson said, an improvement over the 1-in-811,000 odds in the Winners Take All game.

"Surveys we conducted determined that players wanted better odds of winning," he said.

They also indicated a desire for larger second- and third-tier prizes; fixed payouts rather than pari-mutuel prizes that shrink when sales slow; more drawings, and an ability to cash winning tickets immediately.

They'll get all of that with Match 5.

They will also be able to buy three tickets for $2, a permanent feature of the new game. One ticket still can be purchased for $1.

The new game represents the first the Lottery Agency has offered since acquiring new computer equipment and software in July.

The odds of victory


Match 5 (begins Thursday)

Pick . . . . . Odds. . . . . . . . Prize

5 of 5 . . . 1 in 575,000 . . . $50,000

4 of 5 . . . 1 in 3,386 . . . . $400

3 of 5 . . . 1 in 102 . . . . . $15

Winners Take All (ended Tuesday)

Pick . . . . .Odds

6 of 6*. . . 1 in 811,000

of 6 . . . 1 in 4,664

4 of 6 . . . 1 in 133

* Pari-mutuel game; prizes vary with sales volume.

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