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Now you can blow your money on lottery tickets even faster

Is it just me, or does this sound like much ado about not very much?

A proposed lottery game that would allow players to become instant winners (or losers) without so much as scratching a ticket is under fire from critics who contend it would be a giant step toward slot machines.

Under the proposed EZ Match game — which the Texas Lottery Commission could take up as soon as Oct. 2 — players would hand their money to a clerk and get back an instant ticket printed from a lottery terminal.

No wait for a drawing, and no need to scratch.

“It’s just like a scratch game, only you don’t scratch the latex,” Lottery Commission spokesman Bobby Heith said after being asked about critics’ slot-machine concerns. “There’s no buttons. There’s no spinning wheels. There’s no levers. You can only get the ticket through a clerk-assisted transaction at a lottery retailer.”

Proposed rules for the game specify that it would not be played on a video lottery terminal, a form of slot machine. The commission’s assistant general counsel, Pete Wassdorf, has said the only similarity to a video lottery is that the ticket “is purchased from an electronic machine, but the dissimilarities far exceed that.”

A slew of critics, however, have sent the commission pleas to stop the plan. The key, they say, is that game results would be predetermined in the lottery’s computer system and delivered instantly.

“It is a video lottery system that they are approving,” said Rob Kohler, a former Lottery Commission staffer who is a consultant for the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission.

“Whether they are going to allow players to immediately start pressing buttons and seeing electronic versions of card games happening is irrelevant …,” Kohler said. He called passage of the rule “the equivalent of allowing assault rifles, but saying, ‘We’re not going to use this to shoot holes in tanks, we’re going to shoot water balloons out of it.’ ”

So let me get this straight: You give your dollar to a clerk at the local Quik-E-Mart, he then prints you a ticket, and you…look at the ticket to see if you won or not. Boy, if that doesn’t scream “hours of fun for everyone”, I don’t know what would.

I guess I can see the argument about this being a camel’s-nose-in-the-tent for video lottery terminals, or video slot machines. Except that you don’t get to play the machine, someone else does it for you, and instead of an exciting video display, you get a piece of paper. Am I crazy for thinking that this has all the sex appeal of toll booth? Again, I understand the logic of not wanting to set a precedent if you oppose VLTs, but I can’t help but think that this would be a complete dud that no one would want to play. What am I missing here?

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One Comment

  1. Dawn Nettles says:

    A huge concern not mentioned by the media is the fact that there is a widespread problem of clerks stealing players winnings. True, players should know if their tickets are winners before handing them to a clerk to check – but the truth is, players don’t check their tickets.

    With this new proposed game, there is nothing to stop clerks from printing a bunch of these tickets at one time, pull the winning tickets out for himself, then selling the losing tickets to the players when they ask for one. The Commissioners mentioned this during the Commission meeting the day they agreed to post the rule for comments.

    The way I see it, the state, G-Tech and the dishonest store clerks will be the big winners while the consumers and the retailer owners will be the big losers. But heck, look at it this way … the state’s counts on store clerks to sell their products – so they need to make sure the clerks have a way to make a little (bunch) of extra money. And this is it!

    I testified during the comment hearing and provided plently of printed stories in an attempt to stop them from approving this new game. Everyone should read the transcript IF they want to know what’s at stake with the proposed EZ Match game. It will be a complete rip off for the consumers and retail owners who already have huge employee lottery theft problems.

    Dawn Nettles