Treasure Hunt, Pennsylvania Lottery's terminal-based Pick 5 game, has exceeded sales expectations. The game, which went on sale May 8, was projected to bring in between $2.5 million and $3 million in its first quarter. Sales have surpassed $3 million.
Treasure Hunt is unique because it is animated online. Players get a grid numbered 1-30 and mark where they think the treasures are hidden. After the drawing at 1:35 p.m., the "sand" covered grid is shown online being cleared off, reveling five treasure chests. Winning numbers are also available in the usual places.
Locally, awareness of the game seems sparse. Several lottery players questioned were either not aware of the game or unsure how to play it.
"It's picking up," said Al Hossain, owner of US Mini Mart on West Main Street in Stroudsburg, but he has not seen any repeat customers yet. Treasure Hunt costs $1 to play. Jackpots start at $10,000.
The most popular lottery game Hossain sells is Powerball. "Pennsylvania Lottery is lousy," he said, because if people are going to put a dollar on the lottery, they want the big payoffs found in Powerball, where jackpots start at $15 million.
Most of Hossain's checkout counter is taken up by lottery information and tickets.
The Pennsylvania Lottery focuses on odds. One of the best odds going right now is the Millionaire Raffle Game, with the best odds for winning $1 million ever offered by the lottery, according to spokesperson Stephanie Weyant.
In this game, 625,000 tickets will be sold. They are available until 5 p.m. July 7. The drawing takes place at 7 p.m. that day. "Seven is a popular number for lottery players," Weyant said.
Retailers earn 5 percent commission from ticket sales. A bonus program also pays retailers cash, between $500 and $100 thousand, for selling jackpot tickets more than $100,000.
"People buy other items when they buy lottery tickets, and the commission money is helpful to small businesses," Weyant said.
But the deal is not as sweet as it once was. Winners of free tickets are time-consuming, and Hossain said retailers used to earn 1 percent of of winnings as low as $100. "We maintain the inventory for the lottery," said Hossain. Holding inventory for lottery tickets is like holding cash. The scratch-offs are tempting theft items, he said.