International Lottery Game Collapses

Jan 5, 2004, 6:29 am (9 comments)

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20 states won't be getting millions of dollars in new revenue from a high-jackpot lottery after plans for the proposed international game collapsed amid a protest of U.S. military action in Iraq.

The states were working toward the development of a lotto-style game that would have allowed 350 million residents scattered throughout the United States, Canada, Central America, Europe and Australia to compete for prizes that could have reached a total of $1 billion in a single drawing.

But negotiations among the 40 lottery partners who had signed a letter of intent fizzled after the United States invaded Iraq in March, Edward J. Stanek, chairman of the International Lottery Alliance and head of the Iowa lottery, said yesterday.

"We were within a month of signing a contract with a deadline that was mutually set. A game had been designed," Stanek said. "Within days [of the Iraqi invasion], four of the countries in Europe pulled back from the project, and said they were not in a position to move forward with it, and were indefinitely postponing their participation."

Stanek said he was told privately that the U.S. role in Iraq was the cause. "It would be highly coincidental if there was anything else involved," he said, declining to name the four countries because their participation in the project had not been made public previously.

With four of eight European nations out, other jurisdictions worried that U.S. players would dominate the winnings, he said. In short order, 2 1/2 years of planning came to a halt.

For Maryland, the collapse of the partnership means the disappearance of up to $6 million in revenue for the current budget year, which runs through June 30, and $25 million during a full 12 months of operations.

The state is looking at alternatives to pick up the slack, said Maryland Lottery Director Buddy Roogow.  And talks continue for a new domestic multistate game with jackpots that would exceed those of the existing Powerball or Mega Millions.

"From my point of view, good riddance," Roogow said. "We are not operating a United Nations with our lottery games."

Maryland is scheduled to unveil in several weeks a new lottery game called Instant Win, which combines elements of scratch-off tickets and a drawing, Roogow said. Officials are still projecting year-over-year sales growth, he said.

As gambling becomes an increasingly important component of government budgets, Maryland and other state lotteries are constantly seeking fresh games to keep sales high. The state lottery is expected to contribute $450 million to the state's $10 billion operating budget in the current fiscal year, trailing only income and sales taxes in importance.

An international game would have offered the novelty of competition among players in far-off lands and the promise of huge jackpots reaching into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Projections showed that a 16-week rollover of the proposed international game - tentatively called Superpool - would have generated a prize package totaling $1 billion. In the United States, the jackpot would have been capped at $400 million, with the rest of the money distributed to lower prizes.

The largest lottery jackpot in North American history was $363 million in May 2002, offered by the multistate Big Game, since renamed Mega Millions.

Without the multinational game, states are seeking other innovations. New Hampshire, for example, launched a new product with Vermont and Maine called Heads or Tails, said Rick Wisler, executive director of the New Hampshire Sweepstakes Commission.

"That game more than made up that loss," Wisler said. "We're fine. We're right on keel."

Wisler and others said they still hold out some hope for an international game in the future.

Baltimore Sun


four4me's avatarfour4me

This is kind of sad I would have liked to have seen these large jackpots and a chance to play.  They came a long way and almost had the deal done only to stop the process and call it off. I think they should rethink the deal and push forward with it. A lot of people could benefit from it, the revenue alone could help some countries deal with their financial problems. Not to include make many players very wealthy. 


I wonder how a US-only game larger than PB or MM would work, other than combining the games.

dvdiva's avatardvdiva

considering how hard it is to get info from mega millions on their finances one could only wonder about how reliable an international lottery would be

and there is that stupid prize capping nonsense again. if they are so concerned with the prize being to big why don't they offer an el gordo here- reason - people would realize that the grand prize is smaller than most state lotteries and wouldn't play

vincejr's avatarvincejr

One could add a few more states to the MM and economies of scale (and a matrix change) would lead to higher jackpots...remember, the Governator is looking for revenue sources and CA isn't part of either PB or MM....



Actually, California _is_ a MUSL member...they joined BECAUSE of the proposed international game.

vincejr's avatarvincejr


I know CA is a MUSL member, and that the reason they joined was for the proposed (and now dead) international game. However, just because they are a MUSL member doesn't mean that the Governator won't listen to pitches from both games and choose which one he feels will get CA the most money.

In that dventuality, I predict that CA will ditch MUSL and go with a newly-matrixed, renamed MegaMillions. While it would be a feather in the cap of MUSL to get CA to join PB, it could potentially kill the game due to the disparities in the static playing populations involved. MM would be a much better "fit" for CA to go with, as it is populated with states that have large static playing populations. If CA were to join PB, you may as well rename it GoldenStateBall as 99.99% of your jackpot winners will end up coming from Califorinia.

dvdiva's avatardvdiva

I think you forget that powerball could also change its game to grow more. they have before. the argument about California having all the winners doesn't hold. its purely random. for all you know the first five winners would come from Wisconsin. since the odds for mega and powerball only differ by 15 million it shows that even a state with as many people as new york doesn't produce all the winners. If powerball changed its game to have similar or higher odds it would have the same effect.

i doubt cal. will change their lottery though. just doesn't seem like a big priority for them now.



If CA joined Mega Millions, presumably players would still have to choose cash/annuity when they PLAY (as in NY/TX.)

PB, regardless where played, doesn't require the choice UNLESS the jackpot is hit.

Quote: Originally posted by CASH Only on January 05, 2004

I wonder how a US-only game larger than PB or MM would work, other than combining the games.

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