The D.C. Lottery Board, disappointed that more people did not play the current Loose Change instant-lottery game, said yesterday it will start a new game next Wednesday that will pay out a greater percentage in prizes than in previous games.
The lottery agency's newest game, the fourth since the city started legalized gambling in Washington last August, is called "3 of a Kind" and is a takeoff on poker. The city plans to pay out 54 percent of the amount wagered in the game as prizes, 6 percent more than in the Loose Change game, which ends Tuesday.
As a result, board chairman Brant Coopersmith said the city treasury will only get 27 percent of the revenue from the game, down from the usual 30 percent.
Meanwhile, the private firm that manages the day-to-day operations of the instant lottery, Games Production Inc., and its partner, Scientific Games Inc. of Atlanta, will cut their fee from 9 percent to 6 percent of the revenue. The rest of the game's sales will cover a variety of costs.
"We feel there ought to be more winners," Coopersmith said in announcing the new prize structure for the 3 of a Kind game, in which one grand prize winner will eventually win $1,000 a week for life.
He said lottery officials believe the newest game "will sell better" than the Loose Change game in which players scratched the surface off five boxes and then added up the value of the "coins" on the tickets to determine if the total was more than $1, which entitled them to a prize.
A total of 13 million of the $1 Loose Change tickets have been sold during the 12 weeks the lottery board has operated the game, an average of 1.1 million a week. But that leaves nearly seven million unsold, lottery officials said.
In the two previous games, the lottery sold an average of 2.4 million tickets a week in the D.C. Instant Lottery, the first game, and 1.3 million a week in the D.C. Double, the second game.
Coopersmith said the new game "will be easier. More people in the country understand card games."
Gamblers who buy the $1 tickets in the 3 of a Kind game will have to scratch the cover off six boxes but then only determine if they have three matching symbols from playing cards to see if they have won a cash prize or a free ticket to play again.
A player who has three aces on a ticket will win $10,000, while those with lesser playing card symbols will win smaller amounts, down to $2 for matching three 8s and a free ticket for three 7s. The odds of winning in the 3 of a Kind game are slightly better than in previous D.C. lottery contests--1 in 5 to win cash or a free ticket, 1 in 8 to win cash.
A total of 22.5 million tickets will be available in the game, which, if all are sold, would yield about $20.1 million in revenue because 2.4 million tickets would be given away as prizes.
Those who win $100 in the 3 of a Kind game for matching three queens also will be eligible for the grand prize drawing in which $100,000, $25,000, $10,000 and 16 $1,000 prizes will be awarded, in addition to the $1,000 a week for life.
Unlike in the first three D.C. lottery games, there will not literally be a million-dollar grand prize winner. But Coopersmith said the $1,000-a-week-for-life winner, or the person's estate, will be guaranteed $1 million. The winner, if he lives long enough, would total more than $1 million starting in the 13th week of the 19th year of the payments.
However, Coopersmith said the $1,000 weekly prize will not be paid to any winner under the age of 18 until he reaches that age.