Coming to a bar near you: a quicker numbers game

September 17, 1992|By Marina Sarris and John W. Frece | Marina Sarris and John W. Frece,Annapolis Bureau

ANNAPOLIS -- Tired of waiting hours or days to find out if your lottery numbers have won?

Maryland lottery officials are drawing up plans for a new game that would let you know within a matter of minutes whether you won, provided you were not averse to spending some time in a bar.

Details were sketchy yesterday, but sources familiar with the plan said the game would work like this:

Players would obtain their numbers and then wait for the winners to appear periodically on a large screen at a bar or restaurant. New winning numbers could pop up every five, 15, 30 or 45 minutes.

The new game, tentatively called Quick Draw, would loosely resemble the bingo-like keno games already played in Oregon, South Dakota and Montana, the sources said.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer is expected to propose the new lottery game today as part of his plan to eliminate Maryland's $500-million budget shortfall, mostly through deep cuts in programs. The game could begin in January and send $50 million to state coffers by the time the fiscal year ends June 30. From then on, the game would bring in an estimated $100 million a year.

In a move also designed to help the state out of its financial crisis, the Maryland lottery is expanding its Match 5 game drawing from two days a week to five days beginning Monday.

The proposed new Quick Draw game already has at least one fan in the state legislature: Sen. Laurence Levitan, the Montgomery County Democrat who chairs the Budget and Taxation Committee. He said he played a keno-type game in Nevada.

"It has to be a good moneymaker," he recalled. "You see it in restaurants, bowling alleys. You take a ticket, mark four to eight numbers and then every five minutes or so there is a number put on the screen. Depending how many you've got right, you could win $140 or $150."

Carroll H. Hynson, spokesman for the Maryland State Lottery, confirmed that his agency is developing a new lottery game somewhat similar to keno. But he said that no details would be available for several weeks. "Nothing has been etched in concrete in terms of the format and the way it will be run," he said.

Mr. Hynson portrayed the new game as a way the lottery agency could tap into a relatively new market -- white collar workers, professionals and twenty-somethings.

"There is a marketplace out there that we haven't quite touched yet, and this is an ideal opportunity for us to expand," he said.

State Del. Howard P. Rawlings, however, said he believes the new game will be like other lottery games, which tend to attract poor people in disproportionate numbers.

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