Luck of draw hurts Lottery

December 09, 2008|By Laura Smitherman | Laura Smitherman,laura.smitherman@baltsun.com

An extraordinary lucky streak for Maryland lottery players has meant more bad news for a state budget already hobbled by the recession.

Maryland lottery revenue has fallen $27 million below projections since July, largely because a high number of lottery players won big on the Pick 3 and Pick 4 games.

Defying the odds, a series of the same digit was drawn eight times for the game in which players choose three numbers, and once in which they choose four. In those games, players often pick a same-number series out of superstition or for other reasons, officials said.

When the winning Pick 4 series was 1-1-1-1 in August, about 1,400 players won $5,000 each, a $7 million combined payout.

When 1-0-1-2 hit last month, 1,100 players won a total of about $5.5 million.

"We expect a couple of those a year; we don't expect 10 of those in four months. That's an incredible percentage," said Maryland Lottery Director Buddy Roogow, who gave a fiscal briefing to the House Ways and Means Committee in Annapolis yesterday on lottery proceeds, which are the third-highest source of state operating revenue, after income and sales taxes. "I couldn't believe it."

Roogow said he couldn't guess the psychological reasons players choose a series of the same numbers, though he mentioned that three 6's, which came up in July, is the "number of the beast" in the Bible.

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