In a move designed to keep Maryland's lottery competitive with lotteries in neighboring states, the state Lottery Agency is planning to convert its daily Pick 3 and Pick 4 games into twice-daily drawings.
Instead of one pick a day for each game at 7:58 p.m., six days a week, a second pick would be added between noon and 1 p.m., probably starting in May, said lottery spokesman Carroll H. Hynson Jr. The change could bring the state an additional $6 million to $8 million a year in revenue, Mr. Hynson said.
"We're surrounded by states that do the same thing," Mr. Hynson said, referring to Delaware, Virginia and the District of Columbia. "We have to keep up with the trend of the playing population. This is a part of that trend."
Disclosure of the change comes less than a week after Gov. Parris N. Glendening said he was putting the brakes on the expansion of legalized gambling in Maryland, in part by killing a proposed state contract to buy 500 new instant lottery ticket vending machines.
Last night, the governor said he had not been fully briefed by lottery officials but did not see the proposed change in the daily games as contrary to his desire to slow the expansion of state-sanctioned gambling. He said his understanding was that it was "a marketing decision, and by that I mean it is not any major expansion."
Unless he learns otherwise, the governor said he was inclined to allow the twice-daily drawings to go into effect. The Lottery Agency has the authority to change the number of drawings without legislative approval because it does not constitute creation of a new game.
Attempts by the agency in the past to implement new games in midyear has angered lawmakers. To prevent that, the House Appropriations Committee added restrictions to the proposed state budget last week to prevent the Lottery Agency from implementing any new game until legislative leaders have had 45 days to review the proposed change.
Del. Howard P. Rawlings, a Baltimore Democrat who chairs the BTC Appropriations Committee, said he had not been told about the proposed doubling of the daily game drawings and was disturbed by what he called "lottery ad nauseam."
"To me, that would be irresponsible of them to propose a major change in how the lottery gaming moves along and not even share it with the budget committees in our deliberations," Mr. Rawlings said.
Mr. Hynson said the idea of going to twice-a-day drawings "has been mentioned during several testimonies in legislative sessions [and] it also is part of our booklet that gives an overview of the gaming agency."
The lottery spokesman said the change is no different from changes made to other lottery games, such as moving the Lotto game from two plays for a dollar to one play for a dollar and later moving it back to two plays.
Mr. Rawlings has been a longtime critic of the state's increasing dependence on gambling as a method of raising revenue. Restraining spending, he said, would be a better alternative.
Continued expansion of lottery games, Mr. Rawlings said, will eventually saturate the market and "you wind up killing the goose that laid the golden egg."