New Hampshire scratch lottery ticket buyers soon will have a new choice and price range of games to play.
The House on Wednesday approved a new $20 lottery ticket. The higher-priced scratch tickets will offer larger prizes and are expected to add about $5 million to state revenues during the next two years. They've already been approved by the Senate and have the support of the governor.
Rick Wisler, executive director of the Sweepstakes Commission, said the $20 scratch tickets likely will be offered to the public the first week in November, in time for holiday shoppers.
The $5 million in projected income is new money for budget writers in the Senate, who are trying to fill several gaps in the 2006-2007 budget.
Plaistow Rep. Norm Major, who heads the House Ways and Means Committee, said the lottery needs to introduce new games periodically or interest -- and income for the state -- will decline.
Opposition came from Walpole Rep. John Pratt who argued low-income families don't need to spend more money on lottery tickets.
"I think what we're really going to do is create the opportunity for many people at the margins to just double the loss," he said. The state already sells $10 lottery tickets.
East Hampstead Rep. Kevin Camm, a member of Ways and Means, said the committee heard no opposition to the higher-priced scratch tickets from churches, welfare officers or others.
Manchester Rep. Steve Vaillancourt opposed the higher-priced tickets, arguing it will lead the state to phase out the $1 tickets.
Following the debate, the House vote was 196-154 in favor of the new scratch tickets.
The Sweepstakes Commission first proposed offering the $20 tickets, which would provide payoffs of up to $250,000. Gov. John Lynch included the extra revenue in his budget, but the House excluded the source of income from its spending plan.