The new game is likely to make a big splash in Washington County, where more than $16 million was spent on lottery games in fiscal 1997, which ended June 30.
"Our customers like (Bonus Match 5.) We'll see if they like this new one or not," said John Zombro, owner of Central City Liquors Inc. of 401 W. Washington St. "Everybody likes to gamble on something, and a half-million is a nice pot. That should draw some new faces."
Tickets for Cash in Hand will go on sale Jan. 20. The first drawing will be held on Jan. 23 after the Pick 3 and Pick 4 drawings. Drawings will be held each Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Bobby Shoop of Hagerstown said he probably will play the new game because he plays the Bonus Match 5 occasionally now. He said he believes other Washington County players will join him, "just for the fact that it's replacing the Bonus Match 5 and they're always looking for something new."
The $50,000 Bonus Match 5 became less popular than bigger jackpots during its six-year run. Hopeful millionaires preferred rollover Lotto jackpots, said Buddy Roogow, director of the Maryland State Lottery.
"In order to generate the same amount of excitement you have to have a higher jackpot. Lotto used to be very successful at just $1 million. We now have to get close to the $8 million or $9 million level to generate the kind of excitement (it used to,)" Roogow said.
With buyers balking at $1 million Lotto jackpots, the $50,000 top prize for Bonus Match 5 didn't stand a chance. Roogow said he wanted a game with a high and consistent jackpot and a better chance of winning.
More winning experiences mean more repeat customers, he said.
More than $60 million dollars were spent on lottery games in the seven-county Tri-State area in 1997.
Until now, the top cash in hand prize in Maryland - except for some instant tickets - was $50,000 for the Bonus Match 5. Big winners of the $500,000 Cash in Hand will likely take home about $333,334 after taxes.
"I'm not aware of another seven-number game anywhere in the country that's similar to the game we have," Roogow said. "This is seven out of 31 - 31 itself is a small universe of numbers."