The Maryland Lottery is betting on its newest numbers gam to boost revenues for government coffers at a time when sagging tax revenues have the state in a financial crisis.
Beginning Monday, the "Match 5" drawing will take place five nights a week -- an increase from the twice-weekly play since the game was launched in October.
Agency spokesman Carroll H. Hynson Jr. said lottery sales for fiscal year 1992, which ended June 30, totaled about $811 million -- keeping pace with the previous year despite the economic downturn. "In view of the economy, we're doing just as well as we've ever done," he said.
According to Mr. Hynson, an increase in the number of Match 5 drawings had been planned since the game's introduction if the amount of action it generated lived up to projections of $500,000 to $600,000 weekly. And those numbers have proven to be nearly on target, he said.
"We planned to do it about a year down the road after we started the game, and here we are," Mr. Hynson said.
"One of the things we always look at is the bottom line. Our job is to make money for the state of Maryland."
The spokesman noted that betting on Lotto -- the high-odds, pick-six game that builds up multimillion-dollar jackpots when no one wins -- has declined slightly. For that, he blamed a recent run of winners that has kept the jackpot relatively low until this week. Tonight's drawing is worth $5 million.
With the change on Monday, lottery players will have a big-prize game every night of the week, along with the daily Pick 3 and Pick 4 drawings.
Match 5 drawings, which have a top prize of $50,000, will be held every other night of the week.