Multi-Match to replace Lotto


Chances to win the twice-weekly Lotto drawings dwindled yesterday as the Maryland State Lottery Agency announced it is ending the pick-six game early next year - and replacing it with a new one called Multi-Match.

Lotto, which began in 1983 and has produced 622 winners of jackpots valued (before taxes) at $1 million or more, will have its final drawing Feb. 1.

Multi-Match, like Lotto, will be a six-number game with drawings on Wednesdays and Saturdays. But where Lotto tickets offer two lines of numbers, Multi-Match tickets will have three-and allow players to "mix" them for prizes, except for the top jackpot.

Players will choose numbers from 1 to 43 (instead of 49), and tickets will cost $2 - twice that of Lotto. The top prize grows from $500,000, instead of $1 million.

"We wanted to provide a game that wasn't so focused on the jackpot, but on winning experiences," said Buddy W. Roogow, director of the state lottery.

Roogow said Lotto has decreased in popularity over the past 10 years, and focus groups suggested that consumers would tolerate smaller jackpots if there were better odds of winning. Multi-Match has a 1 in 8.5 chance of winning, versus Lotto's 1 in 27 odds.

He said the feature of "mixing lines," allowing players to use numbers from all three lines to win prizes, was a popular idea in focus groups.

"People said, `When I get my lines of Lotto, I would love to be able to mix my lines together,'" Roogow said. "So we're hoping people will be excited about having many more chances at winning, albeit they won't be those huge jackpots."

People with Lotto subscriptions will get letters this week alerting them to the change, with a choice of a refund check or a Multi-Match subscription.

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