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Powerball could come to Maryland

January 18, 2002

Powerball could come to Maryland



By LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

A bill that could bring the Powerball lottery game to Maryland won a state Senate committee's approval Thursday.

Maryland Lottery Director Buddy W. Roogow has asked the legislature for permission to talk with other states and other countries about joining their large-jackpot lottery games.

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Current law limits Maryland Lottery to one multi-jurisdictional game, which is the Big Game.

Maryland Lottery, which is the state's third-largest source of money, is under pressure to bring in even more cash. One way to do that is through a new large-jackpot game, Roogow said.

"I think the world is getting smaller. We're moving into that type of environment," he said.

If the bill passes the Maryland General Assembly, it would allow Roogow to talk with other lottery agencies such as Powerball, he said.

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Many years ago, before Maryland joined the Big Game, it refused an invitation to join Powerball, said Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell, D-Baltimore.

Surrounding states then worked to keep Maryland out, although the climate might now be changing, he said.

Some Washington County residents drive to West Virginia to play Powerball, especially when jackpots are high.

In September, the prize was up to $290 million.

Roogow said he didn't seek the legislation with the intent of becoming a Powerball state. He's also looking into a new game involving other countries as well as other states.

It will be at least a year before any new game is approved, he said.

While the Senate Finance Committee gave its approval to the legislation Thursday, it rejected another request from Roogow that he said would have made lottery ticket purchases more convenient.

Roogow wanted to allow players to buy credit card subscriptions to the Big Game and Lotto games. A yearly subscription to either game costs $100, he said.

Members of the committee were concerned that it would contribute to consumer credit card debt.

Roogow said he didn't think it would be abused. People who buy subscriptions often do so as a gift, he said.

"I see it as a customer convenience," he said.

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