Ohio Lottery Hopes Big Game Brings Local Bettors Home

By THOMAS J. SHEERAN, Associated Press Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) - Ohio's participation in the multistate Big Game lottery should bring home some of the $200 million to $250 million spent yearly on out-of-state lotteries, the Ohio Lottery said Wednesday.

Ohio Lottery Director Dennis Kennedy said the lottery hopes to net a $41 million profit per year from joining the Big Game lottery, even with a likely 25 percent drop in bets on Ohio's twice weekly Super Lotto Plus game.

Kennedy estimated Ohio would generate $230 million in Big Game sales per year.

The Ohio Lottery hopes to join the Big Game by mid-June. On May 15, New York will join Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia in the Big Game.

Drawings in the $1 game are held Tuesday and Friday at 11 p.m. Eastern time in Atlanta. The Ohio Lottery will continue holding its daily midday and early evening drawings Monday through Saturday.

Big Game players select five numbers from 1 to 50 and a second single number from 1 through 36. A player with all six numbers drawn gets the top prize, which starts at $5 million and has gone as high as a U.S. record $363 million in May 2000.

Ohio considered joining the multistate Powerball game but chose the Big Game, which involves mid-sized and large states, because of its prospect of bigger jackpots more frequently, the Ohio Lottery said. Powerball has just one of the nation's top 10 media markets, Washington, D.C.

Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia play Powerball, and Pennsylvania recently applied to join. That border configuration should help Ohio attract out-of-state bettors to Big Game jackpots, Kennedy said.

Jim King, who co-owns Andy's Carryout in Sharonville near Cincinnati, said he didn't know much about the Big Game but said it only could help in terms of lottery sales.

King offered no estimate, but said he was convinced that he loses players to big-jackpot games in nearby Indiana and Kentucky.

"I'm positive of it," he said.

In addition to bringing home Ohio bettors who have sought big out-of-state jackpots, Kennedy said Ohio Lottery border outlets should see a boost in business as players do shopping that they might have done while buying lottery tickets in other states.

"We're hoping to bring some of that back home. It will be a good benefit for our commitment to education transfers (from lottery profits). It will be good for business for our retail agents," Kennedy said.

The top officials of two Big Game state lotteries, Rebecca Paul of Georgia and Jim Kipp of Michigan, joined Kennedy at a news conference Wednesday to outline the game for Ohio players. Ohio will keep profits generated by Big Game sales in Ohio, Paul said.

"The only thing we share will be the big prize pool," he said.

Two months ago Gov. Bob Taft signed a bill allowing Ohio to join a multistate lottery to help erase a $1.5 billion state budget deficit and boost sagging lottery profits.

Last week an antigambling coalition asked a court to stop the state from expanding the Ohio Lottery to include a multistate game. The lawsuit argues that the Ohio Constitution permits only a lottery run exclusively by Ohio with no involvement by other states.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)