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.