Lottery's Dubious Daily Double

March 15, 1995

Let's see if we've got this straight: Gov. Parris N. Glendening opposes expansion of gambling in Maryland, killing lobbyists' dreams of casinos on the Chesapeake, racetrack owners' dreams of in-your-home televised wagering and the lottery agency's dreams of 500 more instant lottery vending machines. Yet state lottery officials turn around soon after his announcement and decide to double the number of daily Pick 3 and Pick 4 games.

Pardon our ignorance, but doesn't that constitute an expansion of gambling?

Perhaps Mr. Glendening flunked Logic 101 when he attended Florida State. Perhaps the right hand of his administration didn't know what the left hand was up to. Or perhaps the governor was trying to have the best of both worlds. Whatever the case, he and those in his administration have come off looking like hypocrites.

Adding 12 new lottery games each week (at least we get a break on Sundays) means another $6 million to $8 million for the state in annual revenue. No matter how you view it, this is clearly a way to extend gambling's reach in Maryland. Now folks will be urged in radio and television advertising -- paid for with taxpayer dollars -- to run out on their lunch breaks and buy lottery tickets for everyone in the office -- and then take a coffee break to tune in the 1 p.m. drawings.

This sets the stage for more grandiose lottery outreach efforts. Why not a lottery drawing every hour? Every half-hour? More exotic wagering?

It is bad enough that Maryland already sponsors an addictive, every-five-minute Keno lottery game. What's the point of turning the Pick 3 and Pick 4 contests into competing round-the-clock gambles?

Now is the time for Mr. Glendening to issue a clear message about state-sanctioned gambling. He should stand by his pledge to end this unseemly effort to squeeze every last dollar out of Maryland citizens through the lure of hitting the jackpot. The lottery agency, for instance, no longer should set as its top priority the maximizing of profits for the state treasury. Greed is not good.

A new daily double for lottery players? It's a sure loser. But the biggest loser of all -- if this plan is allowed to stand -- will be the governor himself.

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