State lottery hopes to hit it big with Match Five

October 08, 1991|By Brian Sullam

In an effort to boost stagnating revenues, the Maryland Lottery Agency will introduce Thursday a new game, called Match Five, which it hopes will reinvigorate sales by producing more winners.

The game replaces Winner-Take-All, which had a 17-month run and did not generate the expected revenues. Lottery officials said yesterday that Winner-Take-All generated about $22 million during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 1990.

They expect the new game to generate about $30 million.

Last year, all the games the lottery runs generated more than $813 million in gross revenues. But net revenue to the state dropped about $20 million to $315 million.

Played three times a week -- Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday -- the new Match Five game calls for players to match five numbers from 1 through 39 to numbers that are to be drawn on the three days the game is played.

Players who match the five numbers receive $50,000; those matching four receive $400, and those matching three receive $15. Agency officials expect 2,800 winners each week.

Sales for the Match Five are expected to be better than Winner-Take-All for several reasons, according to Martin R. Goldman, the Lottery Agency's director of marketing.

In designing the game, the Lottery agency found that people wanted a game that was more frequent than once a week and had a sizable prize and improved odds.

When it was introduced on May 8, 1990, Winner-Take-All, which was played once a week, was supposed to attract players who were interested in lump sum payoffs with odds better than those of the Lotto game, the agency's premier game with the large jackpots.

The last Winner-Take-All game was played Oct. 1.

"This new game falls nicely in our product line," said Mr. Goldman. "It has the feel of a daily game, but it is played like the Lotto."

The odds of winning Match Five are 576,000 to one compared with 811,000 to one for Winner-Take-All. Chances of winning second place are 3,400-to-1 and third place 102-to-1. The overall odds of winning one of the three are 99-to-1.

The odds of winning at Lotto are about one in 12,900,000. (The chances of being struck by lightning are 1,900,000 to one.)

Winner-Take-All was a pari-mutuel game, which meant that ticket sales determined jackpot size.

When the game was introduced in May 1990, Lottery Agency officials projected wining jackpots of between $200,000 and $300,000, but the actual winning jackpots averaged $152,000 because of the lower-than-expected sales.

Even though the jackpot in Match Five is smaller, officials believe that more people will play since the amount of the prize is known. The agency said that in each game there can be up to 12 winners who can take home the $50,000 top prize. In the event that there are more than 12 winners, they will divide the $600,000 first place prize jackpot.

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