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Lotto fever isn't what it used to be

Mega MillionsMega Millions: Lotto fever isn't what it used to be
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Sure, there was a buzz Tuesday. Sure, people dreamed. Sure, people blacked out their favorite numbers — birthdays and anniversaries — hoping for luck to strike.

The chance to win a cool $250 million, though, didn't seem to draw the crazed stampede of wannabe Trumps that it has in the past. In 1984, a then-record $40 million jackpot in Illinois actually caused people to fly in from overseas to take a stab at it.

For some, huge jackpots such as the one offered by the Mega Millions lottery in California and 11 other states Tuesday night are no longer seen as the rare, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities they once were.

"It's not a unique event," said Michael Jones, former head of the Illinois Lottery and now a lottery consultant. "It happens four or five times a year."

People today also have more gambling options — such as the growth of Indian casinos in San Diego County — that hurt the lottery, others argue. Gamblers say the odds of winning in a casino are better than winning the lottery, and the experience is far more electric.

Frank Trejo, a mobile home park maintenance worker, bought a $1 ticket yesterday at the South Bay Liquor Store in a strip mall in Chula Vista.

Trejo's co-worker, Juan Rodriguez, also put down $1, but both men said they tend to go to casinos more these days. Trejo said casinos offer smaller jackpots but are more fun.

"You entertain yourself and forget everything — all your bills," Trejo said.

At one point, Mega Millions sales in California were expected to fall 37 percent below budget for the fiscal year that ended June 30. The final numbers aren't out, but the lottery got a boost when a Mega Millions jackpot reached a record $390 million in March. A lack of big jackpots was to blame for poor sales, lottery officials said.

This week, California's Mega Millions sales more than doubled to $19 million. But the excitement level didn't match what it was in, say, 1988, when the California Lottery — with a $51 million prize at stake — had to create something called the Lottery Fever Management Team to deal with the demand on outlets.

In one day alone, $33 million in tickets were sold.

That was when the California Lottery, now 22 years old, pretty much stood alone. Las Vegas-style Indian casinos weren't approved until 2000, and now San Diego County has 10, more than any other county in the United States.

"The lottery used to be the only game in town," said Marc Lefkowitz, executive vice president of the California Council on Problem Gambling. "And people only have so many gambling dollars to spend."

Sales for California's homegrown big-money game, SuperLotto, were once projected to fall 12 percent below budget for fiscal 2006. The next drawing for SuperLotto Plus, at $87 million, is tonight.

It's no accident that jackpots tend to be bigger these days. That's because the odds of winning them are slimmer, making it more likely that the jackpot will grow. The odds of winning Mega Millions? It's one in 175,711,536.

Even progressive slots — the longest of long shots in a casino — have better odds at roughly 40 million to one.

The California Lottery doesn't consider casinos competition because the games and gambling experiences are different, said Cathy Johnston, a lottery spokeswoman.

People buying lottery tickets yesterday had a different opinion. Christian Gutierrez, who works in sales, spent $3 and let his 3-year-old son, Christian Jr., pick one set of numbers at the South Bay Liquor Store. Gutierrez said he only plays when the jackpot is at least $100 million.

Gutierrez used to play a lot, putting down $100 or $200 at a time, but he now buys a lottery ticket occasionally without expecting to win.

"It's just for fun," he said.

These days, Gutierrez prefers going to casinos.

"You get more for your money," he said. "Even if you lose, you've had your fun."

Some gamblers interviewed at Harrah's Rincon Casino yesterday said they shy away from the lottery, regardless of the jackpot size.

It's that vast disconnect between the obscene size of the jackpot and the unreality of attaining it that bothers him, said Mike Bares, a trucker whose wife, Connie, is his driving partner. A few hours of pulling slots may yield a more humble jackpot, but it's one Bares said he feels more connected to.

Patricia Barnese of Northridge once played the California Lottery, but it got too complicated, she said. Two weeks ago, Barnese tried it again and bought 15 Lotto tickets. She hit only one number and found the whole exercise depressing, she said.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger floated a plan this year to privatize the lottery, arguing that it could be run more efficiently. A number of states are looking at privatization as a way to boost what they consider under-performing lotteries.

Jones, the former Illinois lottery director, said he thinks lotteries still can capture the public's imagination, despite increasing competition. People who like to gamble like to play the lottery, he said. The goal is to capture people who don't normally play.

"Then and now, the fascination factor remains," Jones said of those dizzying jackpots.

San Diego Union Tribune

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25 comments. Last comment 9 years ago by CaliforniaGuy.
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jeffrey's avatar - moon
Hamilton, OH
United States
Member #4162
March 27, 2004
277 Posts
Offline
Posted: August 30, 2007, 1:28 am - IP Logged

It's depressing to never ever win anything. I still play hoping for lightning to strike.

    Avatar
    Qabloc!zewana
    Neutral Zone
    Member #14628
    April 29, 2005
    31 Posts
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    Posted: August 30, 2007, 1:59 am - IP Logged

    It's depressing to never ever win anything. I still play hoping for lightning to strike.

    How succinct.  How eloquent.  I couldn't have put it better myself.  Unfortunately.

      justxploring's avatar - villiarna
      Wandering Aimlessly
      United States
      Member #25360
      November 5, 2005
      4461 Posts
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      Posted: August 30, 2007, 2:46 am - IP Logged

      I wish that's all it took.  I live in the lightning capital of the world!  Smiley

        Avatar
        Indiana
        United States
        Member #29196
        December 29, 2005
        280 Posts
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        Posted: August 30, 2007, 9:13 am - IP Logged

        It's depressing to never ever win anything. I still play hoping for lightning to strike.

        There is a name for this and contrary to what the Lotteries want you to believe it isn't Jackpot Fatigue.  It's called Loser's Fatigue!

        I know because I suffer from it too.

        Jim 


        Money frees you from doing things you dislike.  Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy.  - Groucho Marx

          JADELottery's avatar - MeAtWork 03.PNG
          The Quantum Master
          West Concord, MN
          United States
          Member #21
          December 7, 2001
          3675 Posts
          Online
          Posted: August 30, 2007, 9:53 am - IP Logged

          That  Big-jack-pot  she-ain't-what-she-use-to-be,  ain't-what-she-use-to-be,  ain't-what-she-use-to-be.

          That  Big-jack-pot  she-ain't-what-she-use-to-be,  ain't-what-she-use-to-be,  ain't-what-she-use-to-be.

          Presented 'AS IS' and for Entertainment Purposes Only.
          Any gain or loss is your responsibility.
          Use at your own risk.

          Order is a Subset of Chaos
          Knowledge is Beyond Belief
          Wisdom is Not Censored
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          Jehocifer

            seraphim712's avatar - ayumi13
            New Member
            Atlanta
            United States
            Member #54757
            August 29, 2007
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            Posted: August 30, 2007, 10:47 am - IP Logged

            Is it better to get cash option or annuity and why?

              RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
              mid-Ohio
              United States
              Member #9
              March 24, 2001
              19817 Posts
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              Posted: August 30, 2007, 10:52 am - IP Logged

              As I stated in another thread earlier, playing for a large lottery jackpot use to be an event.  Before MegaMillions came to Ohio, I would travel to Indiana to play PowerBall and to Michigan to play the BigGame and there were always long lines of folks waiting to buy tickets if the jackpots were over $80M.  Sometimes there would even be a TV news team covering the event.

              These day more states participate so there are more places to play with smaller crowds at them and $100M jackpots are kinda expected so they are not news worthy unless someone local wins.

              I have noticed that $200M+ jackpots are making the news but with so many places to play there aren't the crowds of people waiting in lines to buy tickets that were common ten years ago.  Lotto fever still exist but its harder to find.  I plan to buy tickets for the $325M MM drawing but I'll probably wait until just before the drawing, ten years ago I would have been standing in line 24 hours earlier just to make sure I hadn't missed a chance to buy tickets.

               * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
                 
                           Evil Looking       

                Avatar
                Coastal Georgia
                United States
                Member #2653
                October 30, 2003
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                Posted: August 30, 2007, 11:52 am - IP Logged

                I guess a $200 million cash value jackpot ain't what it used to be.  groan  Roll Eyes

                I'd sure take it !

                 

                                               

                              

                 

                 


                  United States
                  Member #16612
                  June 2, 2005
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                  Posted: August 30, 2007, 2:01 pm - IP Logged

                  I hope there is a Mega Millions and a California Super Lotto Plus winner at the next draw.

                    Avatar
                    Coastal Georgia
                    United States
                    Member #2653
                    October 30, 2003
                    1866 Posts
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                    Posted: August 30, 2007, 2:10 pm - IP Logged

                    I hope there is a Mega Millions and a California Super Lotto Plus winner at the next draw.

                    I hope it's you- I hope you step forward, choose cash option,  and do not have financial problems later in life.

                     

                                                   

                                  

                     

                     

                      Avatar
                      Grand Rapids, Michigan
                      United States
                      Member #53008
                      June 19, 2007
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                      Posted: August 30, 2007, 3:43 pm - IP Logged

                      I hope it's you- I hope you step forward, choose cash option,  and do not have financial problems later in life.

                      hahahah!  Well good luck to you too, but honestly I hope it's me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

                        MissNYC's avatar - diva
                        Westchester, New York
                        United States
                        Member #49345
                        January 27, 2007
                        168 Posts
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                        Posted: August 30, 2007, 5:48 pm - IP Logged

                        "At one point, Mega Millions sales in California were expected to fall 37 percent below budget for the fiscal year that ended June 30. The final numbers aren't out, but the lottery got a boost when a Mega Millions jackpot reached a record $390 million in March. A lack of big jackpots was to blame for poor sales, lottery officials said"

                         

                        I've been saying it forever only to be shot down by people on this post. The general public wants large jackpots more often...period.

                        "If you just keep believing, that dream that you wish will come true"

                        Bed

                         

                          Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
                          Zeta Reticuli Star System
                          United States
                          Member #30470
                          January 17, 2006
                          10345 Posts
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                          Posted: August 30, 2007, 6:12 pm - IP Logged

                          I'm hoping several people split it, and not a pool, either- several individuals. Who really needs $330,000,000, or whatever it will be after cash option or not and taxes?

                          Re: the topic title, funny how we get desensitized so quickly, isn't it?

                          Someday there will be a $500,000,000 jackpot- and as soon as it's announced people will be talking about a $600,000,000 jackpot, etc...

                          Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any.

                          Lep

                          There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

                            dphillips's avatar - littleuns
                            Albuquerque, New Mexico
                            United States
                            Member #5128
                            June 18, 2004
                            377 Posts
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                            Posted: August 30, 2007, 8:33 pm - IP Logged

                            Yes, DoubleDown, you may be right: "$200 million cash value jackpot ain't what it used to be."  Of course, I have jackpot loser's fatigue, but I am afraid of not playing: say what?  My numbers came out and I did not play them!

                            Usually, when people stop playing...then, their ship comes into port...and unfortunately, they are not there to catch it: they are running toward their ship -- but the ship is pulling out to sea. How sad, how tragic!

                            Moral of this scenario: no one knows when they are going to hit, the age they are going to hit, and how much they are going to win. Yeah, we hear of 60 year olds hitting -- a rare 70 -- but they were patient!  If you are in good health, hitting the jackpot at 50, 60, or even 70 can bring prosperity. 

                            See Ya!-- Bye, bye!  When you win, may you glow as brightly as theSun Smiley