Maryland gambling exclusion expanded to lottery tickets

Maryland has become the third state to offer a voluntary system to restrict the ability to play the lottery, officials announced Tuesday.

The program is an expansion of the casino exclusion program launched in 2011, several months after Maryland's first casino opened. People on that list agree to be cited for trespassing if found in one of the state's casinos.

Once signed up for the lottery exclusion list, a person is required to forfeit any lottery prize winnings — including from scratch-off tickets — to the Maryland Problem Gambling Fund. Individuals can apply for the program at the state's casinos or at the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency's Baltimore headquarters.

"The expanded program reflects our continued commitment to promote responsible gaming," said Stephen Martino, the lottery's director.

As with the casino exclusion program, applicants to the lottery exclusion program can sign up for either a two-year or a lifetime ban. Those who elect the two-year option must undergo a problem gambling assessment before being removed from the list.

Joanna Franklin, program director for the Center on Problem Gambling at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, doubts the usefulness of the expanded exclusion list.

"It's not going to help very many people," Franklin said, because the program "does not stop them from buying tickets."

The list, she said, isn't even likely to stop people from cashing in their winnings. "Don't you think someone is going to be able to find someone else to cash it in?" Franklin said.

She said she would rather the state fund advertising for the problem gambling help line, a service proven to assist addicts. There isn't the same kind of data to support the use of lottery exclusion lists, she said.

Iowa and Illinois are the only other jurisdictions that provide a way for problem gamblers to restrict their access to lottery winnings, according to the Maryland Lottery. Maryland's program launched Monday.

People who have already signed up for the casino exclusion program — about 220 people are on that list — will receive notice of the lottery exclusion program by mail, the Maryland Lottery said. The agency also placed brochures explaining the voluntary exclusion program in the state's casinos and the roughly 4,440 retailers that sell lottery tickets.

In other lottery news, officials say they have mostly fixed a computer glitch that prevented players from cashing their winning tickets over the weekend, including thousands who won minor prizes in Saturday's Powerball drawing.

"There was a little issue with the software in the system," said Maryland Lottery spokeswoman Carole Everett. "People could purchase tickets. The only issue — and I can understand this was a little irritation with players — was they couldn't cash on the spot."

The problem affected all of the computerized lottery games, not just Powerball.

As of Tuesday morning, almost all of the terminals at the state's lottery retailers had been fixed, Everett said.

Lottery players can cash winning tickets up to $600 at any lottery retailer and tickets up to $5,000 at certain locations. Winners of larger prizes must claim them at Maryland Lottery offices in Baltimore or Lanham.

In Saturday's multistate Powerball drawing, one winning jackpot ticket worth $590.5 million was sold in Florida.

There were more than 181,000 Powerball winners in Maryland. Eleven people won $10,000 and nearly 800 people won $100, Everett said. Most local winners won $7 or $4.

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