The Massachusetts State Lottery will unveil plans today for its most expensive game yet, a $20 raffle-style ("sweepstakes") drawing.
The new game comes as the Lottery looks to revive sales. After years of increases, the Lottery has recently seen its sales growth stall.
The $20 sweepstakes ticket marks the Lottery's first venture into that higher-end price range.
The new "Star Spangled Sweepstakes" contest will kick off May 1, with a July 4 drawing. Lottery officials pledge to create "more millionaires in a single drawing than any other game in U.S. lottery history."
At that drawing, Lottery officials plan to dole out $40 million in cash prizes, including a $20 million grand prize; 10 $1 million payouts; and 40 $250,000 prizes.
The contest revives a revenue-raising tactic popular in Colonial times in Massachusetts, with the first drawing held in 1745 at Faneuil Hall. John Han served for a time as a state lottery commissioner.
To help market the game, a Lottery employee dressed in Colonial garb will make the rounds today. Lottery agents also stand to gain big commissions for selling the winning tickets — up to $250,000.
"The agents are excited about it and that should help drive it," said Lottery chief Mark Cavanagh.
But the decision of offer a $20 ticket is a sensitive one for the Lottery, which is now studying whether to offer scratch tickets in that price range. Opponents of high-priced lottery tickets have argued they create a deeper dent in the pocketbooks of purchasers.
The rollout comes as the Lottery, overseen by state Treasurer Tim Cahill, looks for new games to revive revenue growth. Overall, the Lottery generates nearly $1 billion a year in local aid payments to cities and towns across the state.
A total of 4 million tickets will be sold, raising an additional $80 million in Lottery revenue, officials said.
"You have to stay fresh," Cavanagh said. "You can't keep on doing the same old, same old."
The new sweepstakes, in contrast to most other Lottery products, will offer a lump-sum cash payout, rather than annuity payments stretched out over several years.