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Lottery sales soar

August 02, 2000

Lottery sales soar



By JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer


Like many Washington County customers who play Maryland lottery games, John Creager Sr. is hoping for a windfall so he can retire early.

"It's a chance to put a dollar down and possibly pick up $500, $5,000 or $1 million," said Creager, 55, of Hagerstown.

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Creager plays all the state's lottery games from Keno to The Big Game.

While Keno and scratch-off games are still the biggest sellers in Washington County, The Big Game is a big reason county lottery sales went up in fiscal year 1999-2000, which ended June 30.

Lottery sales in Washington County escalated from $15.5 million in fiscal 1998-99 to $17 million this past year, according to unaudited sales figures from the Maryland Lottery Commission.

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Big Game ticket sales jumped $625,169 last year to almost $1.9 million, said lottery spokeswoman Gail Pelovitz. That's more than a third of the $1.6 million overall increase in county lottery sales.

Sales have probably increased because more people are familiar with the game, and because of the lure of the $363 million jackpot last May that was won by ticketholders in Illinois and Michigan, Pelovitz said.

"It was just overwhelming how many sales there were," Pelovitz said. The "huge jackpot blew people away" with the game growing as it went from six states in its first year, 1996, to seven states, she said.

Maryland, Virginia, Michigan, Illinois, Georgia, Massachusetts and New Jersey participate in The Big Game.

Central City Liquors owner John Zombro said that huge jackpot drew out-of-state residents to his Burhans Boulevard store the way big Powerball jackpots draw Marylanders to Marlowe, W.Va.

"That really boosted sales quite a bit," said Zombro, whose store was the top lottery agent in the county last year.

Central City sold $967,837 in lottery games last year with top sales for the county in Keno and online games, which includes The Big Game, Pelovitz said.

Creager said he buys his lottery tickets at Central City because the store employees are efficient.

"They get you in. They get you out," he said.

Creager admits the odds are against winning, but the game is fun.

None of the 15 tickets he bought for a chance at the $363 million Big Game jackpot panned out, but Creager did get lucky at the Pick 3 once.

He won $3,780, spending the money for a vacation in where else - Las Vegas.

Washington County customers bought $17 million in Maryland lottery games last year, according to unaudited sales figures. Broken down the sales were:

  • Keno, $5,576,777
  • Instant scratch-offs, $5,193,600
  • The Big Game, $1,884,397
  • Lotto, $1,073,138
  • Pick 3, $2,016,885
  • Pick 4, $758,125
  • Ca$h In Hand, $586,939
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