Maryland joins multistate lottery group

Maryland is joining 33 other lotteries in a multistate association that will give players access to new games, including one being introduced in the fall that could award several million-dollar prizes at one time.

Stephen Martino, director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, said that joining the Multi-State Lottery Association, a member-owned nonprofit, will mean that in late October, Marylanders will be able to play a new game called Monopoly Millionaires' Club, which has a top jackpot and also high-value second-tier prizes.

"We hope that we could have hundreds of million-dollar winners at any drawing," said Martino, who said the membership will cost his agency about $27,000 a year, a cost he expects to be made up for by new revenue.

If Maryland casinos agree, Martino said, the state also could offer a multistate slot machine game called Mega Hits through the association. That's a progressive game, meaning part of one day's winning jackpot is held back and added to future jackpots.

The move will not affect existing games, Martino said.

Formed in 1987 and based in Iowa, the association that runs Powerball and several other games includes 32 other states and Washington, D.C. The organization has a staff of 12, giving the Maryland Lottery access to resources for game development, lottery research, advertising and marketing, Martino said.

"We wanted a seat at the table as these new ideas are being developed," Martino said.

The move comes as lottery sales face new competition for gamblers' dollars from the state's casinos. In the fiscal year that ended last week, state lottery sales are expected to drop nearly 2 percent, as they did the previous fiscal year.

Before that, lottery sales had increased for 15 years straight. Total sales last year were $1.756 billion, with revenues of $545 million.

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