The head of the state lottery agency said Wednesday that he will not recommend that Texas join both major multistate lotto games, a concept pitched last month by the Lottery Commission chairman.
Reagan Greer, executive director of the Texas Lottery, said the idea was shot down by Mega Millions, one of two multistate associations eager to add Texas to their games.
Mega Millions officials, according to Greer, decided they were uncomfortable with the idea. Officials of Powerball, the other group recruiting Texas, indicated "they would look at it as an option," Greer said.
Georgia Lottery Director Rebecca Paul, a leader of the Mega Millions group, said Wednesday that all states would have to be allowed to join both games if Texas did so.
That could be counterproductive because it could kill off in-state lotto games in many states, Paul said. That kind of change would be harder on the 10 Mega Millions states because several Powerball states, which tend to have smaller populations, do not have in-state lottery games.
Virginia Lottery Director Penny Kyle, president of the Mega Millions group, said allowing Texas to join both games could create "player fatigue" caused by too many big jackpots.
It adds up to a probable dead end for the both-games idea, something no state has done.
"I will not be recommending both," Greer said.
The three-member Lottery Commission plans to meet early next month to hear Greer's recommendation on which game to join. Texas lawmakers this year voted to allow the state to join a multistate game. Powerball and Mega Millions each offer megajackpot games that drive ticket sales.
Texas Lottery officials plan to begin selling multistate game tickets this fall.
After presentations last month from both groups, Commission Chairman Tom Clowe said he saw no reason why Texas couldn't join both.
But Greer said Wednesday that Mega Millions' opposition has killed the idea.
"I think part of the reason might have been based on the fact that it was opening up a whole new can of worms," he said.
Greer said his decision on which game to recommend for Texas will be based heavily on how each would affect sales of state lottery game tickets. Either multistate game will "cannibalize" in-state game sales. Greer is awaiting projections on which would do so more heavily.
Multistate lotteries reduce the sales of in-state game tickets by 30 percent, officials of both games say, but that decrease is more than offset by profits generated by the multistate games.
Mega Millions officials note that their Tuesday and Friday drawings would not conflict with the Wednesday and Saturday drawings for Lotto Texas. Drawings for Powerball, played in 23 states, are on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but game officials told the Lottery Commission last month that does not mean their game would cut more deeply into Lotto Texas sales.
But Greer, who is still awaiting the results of a study of the issue, said Wednesday he is "uncomfortable" with adding a multistate game with drawings on the same night as the Lotto Texas drawings.
"I want to see the numbers on that," he said. "That's a big part of what we're looking at."