To combat sorely sagging sales, the Maryland Lottery yesterday announced its first $10 instant game -- which has a $2 million top prize -- and a separate promotion to invigorate the top-selling Pick 3 game.
Officials hope the $10 game, the most expensive instant ticket in the lottery's 23-year history, will revive sales of scratch-offs, which have dropped by about 25 percent since July.
The new game is called "Hot Cars & Cool Cash." Its $2 million top prize is significantly higher than the $5,000 to $10,000 for the average $1 scratch-off game.
Hot Cars players also could win one of up to 100 1997 four-wheel drive vehicle and cash prizes from $10 to $250. A Baltimore woman yesterday presented a winning ticket for the first free car. The odds of winning any Hot Cars prize are 1 in 2.59, which are somewhat better than offered by most other instants.
To promote that and other instant games, the lottery will begin today a statewide television advertising campaign that costs more than $200,000.
"We would like it to boost sales," said lottery director Buddy Roogow of Hot Cars. "We're hoping it will be attractive to the players in Maryland."
The lottery also is trying to spur sales of Pick 3 and Pick 4 computer games. From this week through Nov. 24, players who buy a ticket for six midday Pick 3 or Pick 4 drawings will receive a free ticket for the next seven evening drawings of the same game.
Pick 3 sales have been down by 5 percent since July 1, which concerns lottery officials since the game is the agency's "bread and butter," Roogow said.
Pick 3, which requires a player to select three digits, is the lottery's single biggest seller. It has provided about a third of the agency's total overall sales, which reached $1.1 billion last fiscal year. (Of that total, the lottery returned $392 million to state coffers and $612 million to players in the form of prizes.) Overall lottery sales have dropped by about $30 million, or almost 9 percent, since July 1, said lottery spokesman Carroll H. Hynson Jr. The decline is compared to the same period last year.
The sagging sales have concerned both lottery officials and legislators because the lottery is state government's third-largest source of general fund revenues. Maryland is counting on that money to balance the budget and provide funds to build a professional football stadium in Baltimore.
The lottery also plans to make changes in Lotto, which, according to legislative analysts, has seen a sales decline of about 25 percent since July.
Lotto may have been hurt by the state's adoption of the Big Game, a new multi-state game launched in late August.
"The Lotto needs to be freshened, and it needs to be renovated," Roogow said yesterday.
Roogow said that in recent weeks he has been allowing the Lotto jackpot to grow after each drawing in which there is no winner. The jackpot did not grow after several drawings this summer, frustrating some players.
Pub Date: 11/01/96