The state Lottery Commission is considering changes to Lotto Texas, the state's main lottery, with the intent of providing bigger prizes but lower odds of winning, despite the fact that the same change made over two years ago did not have this effect.
Officials concede that sweeping changes adopted 2 1/2 years ago -- which included jacking up the odds -- have failed to revitalize the game, but they're considering trying their luck again.
"I'm concerned about the fact that it hasn't been as productive as I expected it to be when we made the last change," C. Thomas Clowe, chairman of the three-member Texas Lottery Commission, said in today's editions of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "The major reason is because the players have had such good luck. They hit those jackpots more than was anticipated."
Lotto is the game in which players choose six numbers from a pool of 54, hoping to match all six in the twice-weekly drawing to collect the jackpot that starts at $4 million and increases each time no one wins the top prize.
But despite the 25.8 million-to-1 odds against winning, Texas lottery officials are seeing too many jackpots being won at the relatively low levels of $4 million and $6 million that prevent the surge in ticket sales that the state counts on to help fill its coffers.
Officials thought they had solved the problem when they increased the numbers in play from 50 to 54 in July 2000, when the odds against winning the jackpot were only 15.8 million-to-1.
The current proposal would increase the odds to 45 million-to-1 under a variety of scenarios.
One persistent lottery critic said state officials are running a risk of killing interest in Lotto Texas for the game's most loyal players.
"They are deliberately trying to design a game that people cannot win, and that's highway robbery," said Dawn Nettles, a Garland resident who publishes a newsletter for lotto players. "To say I'm against it would be putting it mildly."