After four weeks of scratch-offs, the Oklahoma Lottery has diversified on schedule.
In a Tuesday meeting, the lottery's commission approved the sale of online tickets. The system started up on Thursday around 5 a.m.
The state's first online game, Pick 3, offers a crack at $500 each day — including Sunday.
Odds are players statewide will recoup 50 percent of what they spend on Pick 3 tickets. Prizes are set and there is no swelling jackpot, as Oklahoma will see with Powerball's expected January arrival.
Players can match two of Pick 3's three numbers in the right order and position to win $50. If they opt for the box game, they can win $80 or $160 for guessing all three numbers in any order. The larger prize comes to players who correctly guess two numbers will be the same.
The $500 prize is for guessing all three numbers in the right order. The $1 fee covers only one of these games, but players can fill out one slip to enter up to seven drawings in a row and pay for each one.
James Scroggins, lottery director, said Pick 3 and Pick 4 games are especially popular in the eastern United States, where for years they were sold on street corners.
The lottery will accept entries for same-day drawings until 9:05 p.m.
Once players read instructions, available in English and Spanish at lottery retailers, and fill out a slip they feed the information through a satellite network to the lottery's central computer.
Within 1.5 seconds, the computer recognizes the player's choices and sends a message back to print out a ticket.
Then the nightly drawing takes place. The drawing equipment, double locked 30 feet from the broadcast studio, takes a security official's key along with a lottery official's key to open in the presence of an outside auditor.
Thomas Riley, commission member from Stillwater, said the drawing's procedure manual fills 16 pages. It takes more than an hour to carry out a fair drawing and a 60-second televised broadcast for players at home.
Official observers can halt the drawing and conference at any time they see a problem, and Scroggins said the news media will be allowed to see the conference's recording if the results ever come into question.
After the drawing, players can swipe their ticket's bar code at a lottery retailer and let the computer tell them if they won. If they scan a winning ticket, the machine will print out an authorization to pay a prize, which every retailer should cash out on the spot.
"If you come to us," Scroggins said, "we'll pay you if need be."
The Oklahoma Lottery Commission offices are on Santa Fe in northeast Oklahoma City near the state Capitol.
Scroggins, former Pennsylvania lottery director, said the commonwealth's Pick 3 game pulled in more than $12 million per day.
"We will never do that" in Oklahoma, he said.
He hopes to have more than 2,500 retailers selling lottery tickets by the Powerball launch.