Lottery double talk

March 15, 1995

The reason Maryland is doubling its daily Pick 3 and Pick 4 lottery games, according to a lottery official, is that other neighboring jurisdictions -- Delaware, Virginia, the District of Columbia -- have done it.

It's no big deal, anyway, according to this official. It's just a marketing move.

Oh, really?

Let's face facts: By going to a twice-a-day format for Pick 3 and Pick 4 lottery drawings (except on Sundays), the state of Maryland is embarking on a significant expansion of gambling. It also opens the door to much broader changes via lottery games throughout the day.

Is this what Marylanders want their state government to be doing? One powerful legislator, the city's Del. Howard P. "Pete" Rawlings, accurately described this move as "lottery ad nauseam." Along with all those promotions to get us to buy tickets for the daily evening drawing and the weekly Lotto drawing -- not to mention the every-five-minutes Keno drawing -- there now will be taxpayer money wasted on advertising the daily noontime drawing, too.

We can hear it now: "Why eat lunch? Buy a batch of lottery tickets instead, then stay tuned for the 1 p.m. numbers. You may never have to return to work."

Enough is enough. We thought Gov. Parris N. Glendening believed that, too. During last year's gubernatorial campaign and early in his administration, he said he wanted to put the brakes on expansion of legalized gambling in Maryland. He blocked an effort by the lottery agency to buy 500 more instant lottery ticket vending machines. He canceled a racetrack experiment on in-your-house TV wagering. He slammed the door on casino gambling in Maryland for this year.

Yet now his administration is hot to double the number of daily lottery games.

If the governor is serious about reining in gambling enterprises in Maryland, he needs to quash the notion of a lottery daily double. If lottery officials want to drum up new business (and bring in more revenue for the state), they can do so by making the current drawings more creative and exciting. We have just about reached the limit of what Marylanders will tolerate in games of chance. Lottery officials -- and the governor -- shouldn't test their luck on this bad gamble.

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