Touted at first scratch game to award $1B in prizes
After a year of declining sales and a sweepstakes that left the Massachusetts State Lottery with a $12 million loss, the agency plans to release its first-ever $20 instant ticket, which will reward winners with the largest total prize amount ever given out in the country.
Lottery officials tout the game — named "Billion Dollar Blockbuster" — as the first instant game in the country to pass the billion-dollar mark in terms of prizes.
"It's going to be the most exciting game the lottery's every produced," said Mark Cavanagh, executive director of the lottery. "We're the only New England state that doesn't have a $20 instant ticket. It's something that the players have been asking for."
The new ticket is not the first $20 game offered by the state lottery. Earlier this year, players had the chance to win up to $20 million by purchasing a Star Spangled Sweepstakes ticket at a cost of $20. The raffle wasn't as popular as lottery officials had hoped, and lackluster sales left the lottery with a $12 million loss on the game.
The state lottery has been one of the most successful in the county, but overall lottery sales have declined within the last year. Lottery officials had estimated that sales for the fiscal year ending in June were down 1.5 percent from the previous year's record take of $4.52 billion. Records filed with the state earlier this year showed that lottery revenues fell $71 million, or 3.8 percent, during the first five months of last fiscal year.
Despite its collapse, Cavanagh said, the Star Spangled Sweepstakes helped pave the way for the new ticket. He also said he was optimistic that cities and towns would benefit from the new game, because the lottery provides local aid to communities throughout the state.
Opponents of gaming said the new ticket could do more harm than good. "Any expansion of gambling is counterproductive to the welfare of the families of Massachusetts," said Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute.
Although players have a better chance of being struck and killed by lightning than winning the top prize — the odds of winning that prize are 64 million to 1, according to Cavanagh — Tony, 48, a lottery player from South Boston, said he would still try his luck. "I'd try a few of those," he said, standing inside a convenience store in South Boston waiting for the next Keno game to start. "Luck is luck."
The new ticket will be available statewide starting Sept. 25 and offers players the chance to win dollar amounts including $20, $25,000, and $10 million.