LITTLE ROCK — A new way to play the lottery in Arkansas debuted yesterday.
Lottery retailers can now sell tickets for Cash 3, a game that allows players to pick three numbers in hopes of matching them to numbers selected by a random number generator at the lottery's headquarters in Little Rock.
The game is the lottery's first in-state "draw" game. The multi-state Powerball game, which holds drawings in Orlando, Fla., launched in Arkansas on Oct. 31.
A second in-state draw game, Cash 4, is expected to launch sometime next year.
Each Cash 3 ticket offers several different ways to play and can cost as little as 50 cents or as much as $6 per drawing, depending on the type of play chosen. For additional money, a player can choose to play in more than one upcoming drawing with the same ticket.
The odds of winning range from 1 in 67 to 1 in 1,000. Prizes range from $40 to $500.
State Lottery Director Ernie Passailaigue said Cash 3 offers not only the cheapest way to play the lottery but also the best odds of winning a top prize — though Cash 3's top prize is considerably lower than the millions offered by Powerball.
"The odds of selecting the six Powerball numbers are 1 in 195 million on a $1 bet. The jackpot's greater for Powerball; the odds are better, and the jackpot is appropriately lower, on Pick 3," Passailaigue said.
The so-called "drawings" will be held at 12:59 p.m. Monday through Saturday and at 6:59 p.m. daily. Results will appear in animated form on the lottery's Web site, and Lottery Post publishes the winning numbers on its Arkansas Lottery Results page (www.lotterypost.com/results/ar) within minutes of the draw.
The lottery has ordered four random number generators for about $5,000 each. Shortly before each drawing, an independent auditor and a draw manager employed by the lottery will enter the room containing the computers and will conduct a series of procedures, including testing the machines and randomly selecting the one that will be used in that drawing.
"All of this will be also captured on videotape so that somebody can go back and witness the aspects of the draw independently of the two people in the room," Passailaigue said.
Remmele Mazyck, deputy director of security for the lottery, said the room will be kept locked between drawings. The room cannot be entered unless both the independent auditor and the draw manager use their keys together, he said.
Some have questioned whether using computers to pick lottery numbers increases the opportunity for a technical glitch to occur or for someone to rig the results. Passailaigue said he is confident the lottery's security procedures will prevent that from happening.
"If I thought it was a problem, I wouldn't start the game," he said.
Mazyck, who formerly served as security manager for South Carolina's lottery, said the computers were ordered from the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs Powerball and has a strong reputation for integrity and security.
"People can feel real confident that these numbers are random," he said.
Passailaigue said previously he expected in-state draw games to generate about 20 percent of the lottery's revenue, with another 20 percent coming from Powerball and 60 percent from instant-win games. On Friday he said he's no longer sure those estimates will hold, thanks to two unexpected factors.
First, there's the unexpected popularity of instant-win games, which have averaged $9.3 million in sales per week, compared to $1 million per week in Powerball sales.
Second, the organizations behind Powerball and the multi-state Mega Millions game recently decided for the first time to allow states to cross-sell tickets. Arkansas plans to start selling Mega Millions tickets on Jan. 31.
Passailaigue said he would guess the addition of Mega Millions would drive up participation in draw games, but he will have to wait and see.
"Will they (players) just chase the jackpot that's higher, Mega Millions or Powerball? Will they spend some for both jackpot games? Nobody in the lottery industry knows that yet," he said.