In the 31 years of the Maryland Lottery's existence, there has been no Sunday afternoon game - but that will end this weekend as the agency expands its afternoon and evening Pick 3 and Pick 4 drawings to a seven-day-a-week schedule.
State lottery officials professed not to know for certain why drawings have not been held on Sunday afternoons.
"Probably there was concern - 20-some-odd years ago ... about Sunday being a religious day," said lottery director Buddy Roogow.
The Rev. Gregory B. Perkins, pastor of St. Paul Community Baptist Church in East Baltimore, said he was not surprised that Sunday afternoons were added.
"They [already] do this on Sunday," he said. "Whether they do it two, three, four times a day, it's a moot point. ... Sunday, for the most part, in America, is no longer the day of rest and worship that it once was."
Perkins added that he feels it is irresponsible for the state to increase revenue using a lottery and proposed forms of gambling such as slot machines. "Someday, someone will realizes states can't gamble their way out of hard times," he said.
The state is hoping that the new drawings will generate $5 million to $8 million annually.
The afternoon Pick 3 and Pick 4 drawings will be held at 1:30 p.m. Unlike other state lottery drawings, they will not be televised because of the expense of buying airtime on Sunday afternoons, which are filled with sports broadcasts, officials said.
"We will tape every drawing, and we will have it available on our Web site," Roogow said.
Pick 3 and Pick 4 offer top prizes of $500 and $5,000, respectively, on a $1 bet. They generate about $500 million in annual ticket sales.
The new drawings bring Maryland in line with nine other states or jurisdictions that hold Sunday afternoon drawings, including the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, according to Maryland lottery officials. Virginia has no lottery game on Sundays.
"We have drawings on every single day of the year," including Christmas and Easter, Roogow said. "We thought, 'Why shouldn't Maryland have a midday drawing on Sunday?"