The chairman of the Texas Lottery Commission has asked the state attorney general to study whether it would be legal to add a raffle to its array of games.
Raffles offer better odds of winning than other kinds of games because a limited number of tickets are sold and there can be no duplicate winners. Twenty-seven states already offer raffles with mixed success.
Lottery spokesman Bobby Heith said the commission would still have to research the idea before starting a raffle game. But officials didn't want to waste time doing that if they weren't confident the game would be legal in Texas.
In a request for a legal opinion released Monday, Lottery Commission Chairman C. Tom Clowe Jr. asked the attorney general if the new game of chance could be offered under current law.
At least 16 other states have operated raffle games, which offer much better odds of winning than a lottery.
The details of raffles, including the cost of a ticket, the number of tickets sold and the number of prizes offered, vary from state to state.
Illinois, for example, is raffling 500,000 tickets for $20 each. That game offers four prizes worth $1 million and five prizes worth $100,000. The odds of winning $1 million are 1 in 125,000 and the odds of winning $100,000 are 1 in 100,000.
In California, a maximum of 5 million tickets were sold for $5 each. The sales stopped after 30 days, when nine tickets were pulled for the big prize of $1 million each. In Illinois, the state is raffling 500,000 tickets for $20. The Illinois game is offering four prizes of $1 million, meaning the odds of winning are 1 in 125,000, and five $100,000 prizes, with the odds 1 in 100,000.
"It's not a new concept," Heith said. "From the aspect of popularity, they've been very successful."
He said the lottery is interested in new ways to generate revenue and interest but wanted to make sure that a raffle would be allowed under the lottery statute. In the past two years, weekly Lotto Texas ticket sales have dropped from an average of $5.9 million to about $4.5 million.
The odds of winning Lotto Texas, a traditional online game, are 1 in 26 million, Heith said.